The Minute Book
Saturday, 15 August 2015

Ordinary day in billets
Topic: British Army

Ordinary day in billets

"Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915-18, Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., 1937

1st November.

Ordinary day in billets. Orders circulated to companies for the relief of the 1st North Staffords in the front line at the "Mound of Death" on the morrow. Company commanders went off on reconnaissance and returned at night with a bad account of our new line. For the past month the area round the ruins of St. Eloi had witnessed much fighting. Three mines had been exploded, and there was the usual scrapping for possession of the craters.

Our Division expected an attack, and we were detailed to hold the position. Platoon commanders were given maps, and were told to explain the situation to the men. It was during this so-called rest, which was in reality one long endless fatigue, that Headquarters issued orders that owing to the unsavoury tone in the word "fatigue" in future the term "working party" must be used.

It was pointed out that these working parties performed most important work, and that there was as much honour and glory in a "fatigue" party as there was in being the attacking troops. We were ordered to read this out on parade. I did so, and when I had finished one "old tough" was overheard to remark: "Begorra, ye can change the bloody name but the fatigue is still there."

The word "mine" was also scrapped, "sap" being substituted, owing, they said, to the Huns getting to know about our mining activity. There was a rumour afloat that it was the intention of the Higher Command to stop the rum issue and give hot coffee in lieu. Fortunately nothing materialised in this direction and we all breathed in peace once more.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 2 May 2015

Inspection at Poona 1942
Topic: British Army

Inspection at Poona 1942

Troop Sergeant Clive Branson, Royal Armoured Corps RAC, quoted inThe Mammoth Book of War Diaries and Letters; Life on the battlefield in the words of the ordinary soldier, 1775-1991, Jon E. Lewis, 1998

Today a General paid us a visit. In one squadron they had many men change into PT kit, some ready to box, some to do PT, some to form two basket-ball teams, etc. They were kept sitting about doing nothing for ages until a scout saw the General's car. The scout signalled, and immediately everyone began boxing and playing basket-ball.

Nr Poona [Indial
20 June 1942

You have little idea how badly we need the news of the second front—it is the difference between a body of good, stolid-humoured Britishers and an inspired army of warriors. This morning we went out on a scheme on foot in units representing tanks. We covered ten or twelve miles or more over ploughed fields. It was magnificent exercise and although I felt pretty tired I enjoyed it no end. That sort of thing will make real soldiers of us.

But tonight I had a terrible set-back. On parade this morning we were asked who had seen active service. I said I had. When we came back from the scheme I was told that I was to go on an inspection by the Duke of Gloucester in a few days' time. This parade is purely bullshit. It will take several days to polish boots, brasses, etc. It will take days and nights for some eight Indian tailors to alter, clean, press, etc. clothes for the white sahibs to wear like bloody waxworks. The Indians, of course, will not be on parade, the lucky fools. I have often been asked, "Have we got a fifth column here?" Yes, we have! For nothing could help the enemy more by undermining morale, destroying enthusiasm and making us incompetent fighters than this kind of tomfoolery. The farce develops. This morning we had an inspection. The Duke's show is in five days' time. On the day we get up at 5 a.m. Our clothes will be packed in boxes and taken by lorry to the scene of battle, where we will get into them. Sebastopol is falling and our CO is disappointed at the lack of polish on the topee chin straps.

Well, the Duke's show is over, at immense expenditure of precious petrol, wear and tear of vehicles, deadening bullshit. The Duke merely shook hands with unit commanders and squadron leaders—the men just didn't exist. Today a General paid us a visit. In one squadron they had many men change into PT kit, some ready to box, some to do PT, some to form two basket-ball teams, etc. They were kept sitting about doing nothing for ages until a scout saw the General's car. The scout signalled, and immediately everyone began boxing and playing basket-ball. As soon as the General disappeared the men were marched back to their tents. This is how things are going on here.

The Senior Subaltern

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

Supporting the Troops
Topic: British Army

Army Service Corps troops - See full image.

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

Supporting the Troops

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

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

(1)     I was incompetent,

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

(3)     A combination of (1) and (2).

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

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 10 January 2015 7:18 PM EST
Saturday, 27 December 2014

Paris Leave, 1918
Topic: British Army

Paris Leave, 1918

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

On December 27 [1918], just as the regiment was going forward into Germany, the Squadron Leader said to me, 'Your leave has just come through.'

I was flabbergasted. 'What leave?'

He said, 'Your Paris leave, of course.'

I'd put in for this leave two years previously, when I was with the Royals and before I was married. I'd never heard of anyone getting Paris leave throughout the whole war! I went to the paymaster and asked, 'How about some money ?' The paymaster said he had no francs at all, but he said, 'There's the deposit on those beer kegs you bought in Liege. Take 'em back and use that 300 francs.' I'd had a new uniform made, beautifully tailored and I'd been issued with a new set of underwear. I set off like a gay dog for the railway station in company with the Canadian staff sergeant, with whom I had shared the night out with the two sisters. There were no timetables for the trains, and all were crowded. They arrived and left without anybody knowing where or when. I heard I should get some tickets, but as soon as I went off, the train left, bearing away my valuable underwear. We finally reached Paris at half-past two in the morning. We were taken into an office by the Military Police, told when we would be returning, given a package of prophylactics and a lecture about behaving ourselves. We were warned that our return from Paris might be delayed by American soldiers who had gone absent without leave, but had kept their rifles and who held up returning leave trains as they went slowly over broken bridges and robbed them of all the spirits on board.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Day; A Soldier's Diary
Topic: British Army

Christmas Day; A Soldier's Diary

A Soldier's Diary of the Great War, Anon., 1924

December 25th, Christmas Day.

The guard-room is a small shed with dirty straw, which we share with a machine-gun section of the Regulars. These cheerful souls are this quiet morning engaged in picking lice out of the seams of their clothing.

For dinner we warmed two tins of Maconochie (M. and V. ration) and some Christmas pudding sent from home, with biscuits, butter, jam, and coffee.

Life is one great battle with water and mud. The paths are neatly labelled with names reminiscent of home, 'Piccadilly Circus', for example. One ramshackle hut has a notice board outside, SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI.

Even the German shells and our axes have not yet spoilt the beauty of these great woods. In spring they must be lovely. Last year's nests still swing on the rustling twigs; and robins, wrens, and chaffinches chirrup still around. They resound to the blows of hammer and axe, to the tramp of feet, shouts and whistle and song, or to the scream and crash of a shell; but when the rare gleam of winter sunshine strays al December ong the rides, one cannot help thinking of the high woods of home.

Last night was a cheerful one in the trenches and barricades. We all made merry with carols, mouth-organs and popular songs. The Germans also made a rare noise, and all along the lines there was cheering and singing.

Today a number of our fellows and the Germans have been chatting between the lines, swapping cigarettes, and so on. The Regulars H.Q. have sent out to us of the guard some hot roast beef, potatoes, fruit, and beer.

I joined the company at 8 p.m. at the breastwork, curled up round the brazier, and slept for a few hours. Followed long hours of fatigues (sand-bags to the firing line) and then the company took over the front line.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 29 November 2014 4:19 PM EST
Saturday, 13 December 2014

Guards Officers' Dress
Topic: British Army

Guards Officers' Dress

Even When Off Duty It Must be Strictly According to Rule

The Montreal Gazette; 13 December 1913
Via the London Standard

A check to the growing carelessness and slackness in the matter of men's garments has been administered by instructions that have been issued to the effect that all Guards' officers, when not in uniform, are to wear black coats and silk hats when in the neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace.

Instructions of this nature are not officially issued, but through channels that are just as stern, and they have caused considerable discussion in military circles. It is not generally credited that the new order is in deference to the wishes of the King, although the fact that it applies to the "neighbourhood of Buckingham Palace" would point to that conclusion. It is accepted that the order has come from the new General Officer Commanding the London DistrictMajor-General Sir Francis Lloyd, who succeeded Lieut.-General Sir Alfred Codrington on September 1 last.

Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd has a reputation as a very precise and exact soldier if not a martinet and on his appointment to his present command the officers of the Brigade of Guards expected some new and surprising orders. He has been a Grenadier Guardsman since 1874, and has seen considerable service in Egypt and South Africa. He vacated the command of the Welsh Territorials when appointed to his present position.

The discussion in service circles is; Should a Guardsman be compelled to be a dandy in his own time? Those in favour say a commission in the Guards carries with it social obligations of an exacting nature; that the traditions of the Brigade are that its officers should be the leaders of fashion in times of peace; that men join the Brigade well knowing these traditions, and should be prepared to keep them up. It is also advanced that the people of England look to the officers of the Guards to keep up their reputation for smartness both on and off parade, and that to see an officer in London dressed like a chauffeur or groom is a violation of the best traditions of the Brigade of Guards.

On the other hand, it is advanced that no laws are unchangeable; that the motor car and the growing popularity of golf have changed all the laws of fashion; and that to insist upon the silk hat in modern London is barely less extreme than to demand the revival of knee breeches, satin coats, lace ruffs, and three-cornered hats. It is also claimed that a gentleman looks a gentleman in any garb; that your true Guardsman is a Guardsman in his shirt sleeves; and that there is quite as much distinction and fashion to be got out of a tweed suit, cap, and mackintosh as there is in the silk hat or the frock coat, which is now little more than the mark of the shop assistant.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 25 October 2014

British Army Acquires Carrier Pigeons 1897
Topic: British Army

Carrier Pigeon Service (1897)

Blasts from the Trumpet
The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 13 March 1897

Following in the footsteps of all the other European governments, England has arranged for the use of carrier pigeons in the army. In time of war it is urged that these swift couriers of the air can be used when railway, telegraph, messengers and other usual means are cut off, and pigeon lofts will be established at suitable places where they will prove most effective.

In the beginning England will have but few birds, but more will be added as time and money will permit. Germany has the most complete carrier-pigeon service of any country in the world. There is hardly a town of any importance in the German Empire that hasn't a pigeon loft, and the German Emperor annually distributes numerous prizes for long and rapid flights. The annual appropriation for the pigeons is about $6,000. France has more birds than Germany and spends $20,000 a year in maintaining them, but they are not so well distributed.

There are scores of private lofts in Germany that will be in the service of the Government in time of need. France learned the value of pigeons during the siege of Paris, when they were used to convey messages to the seat of government at Tours. Nearly fifty messages were successfully despatched during the siege, and since then the value of the pigeons has not been questioned. It seems that carrier pigeons are not able to make the speed that is popularly supposed. German experts say that the average pigeon can fly thirty-five miles an hour and not more.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 2:05 AM EDT
Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Information Security; 1942
Topic: British Army


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

Put in every-day language, Security consciousness is knowing how, what, when, and where to shut up—and what to shut up about. Good Security is acting continuously on this information.

Every soldier in the Canadian Army shares with his comrades a responsibility for Security which is with him at all times.

Without Security the best-planned operations can not be fully successful. Without Security consciousness no soldier is fully, trained. … And Security consciousness is a state of mind whidh you, as a responsible member of the Canadian Army, must yourself develop. Your officers and instructors can tell you why—even how—but developing this Security consciousness, this state of mind, depends upon yourself.

Military Security is merely the defence counter-measures which the Danadian Army employs to safeguard the men of the Army, to safeguard the information which these men necessarily possess and to safeguard the Army's stores, equipment and arms. It is your obligation to co-operate to the fullest in keeping from the enemy the information he wants and must have to wage war successfully against us. He spares neither time nor money to get this information and he works round the clock.

The enemy wants to learn everything he can about us and our plans for conducting the war. He is interested in the tiniest morsel of information he can glean. Even though it is of little importance in itself, it nevertheless represents a piece in the jigsaw puzzle on which he is constantly working. —Don't help him! There are many channels of leakage of these tiny, "harmless" bits of information. From the soldier's point of view, however, the most dangerous are:

1.     Conversations in public places;

2.     Conversations with friends and relatives through which information comes into the possession of those who, with the best will in the world, do not understand the importanceof safeguarding it;

3.     Conversations over the telephone—for the telephone is not secret;

4.     Correspondence home and with friends (see 2 above);

5.     Correspondence with unknown persons—”Penpals,” business forms or advertisers;

6.     Telegrams;

7.     Photographs.

Remember—you help Hitler whenever you mention in letters or talk to civilians about any of the following subjects:

(a)     Strength and Disposition of your own and other units.

(b)     Location or description of defence positions.

(c)     Armament or equipment.

(d)     Rumours or forecasts of Movements.

(e)     All matter relating to ships and ship movements, whether naval or mercantile marine, or to naval defenses such as submarine nets and booms.

Put in every-day language, Security consciousness is knowing how, what, when, and where to shut up—and what to shut up about. Good Security is acting continuously on this information. Breaches of Security are punishable under Military Law.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 26 April 2014

Bigger Canadian Army Urged
Topic: British Army

Bigger Canadian Army Urged to Patch Defence "Soft Spots"

Ottawa Citizen, 11 July 1963
By Charles Lynch, Southam News Service

The austerity-pinched Canadian army needs additional manpower it is it to fulfill its commitments in Europe and for home defence, Lt. Gen. Geoffrey Walsh, Chief of the General Staff, told the Commons defence committee today.

He gave the committee a picture of general army readiness, but pointed out several thin spots and dramatized the deficiencies by saying Canadian troops in Europe are "directly in the middle of the path" of any Soviet ground offensive.

He also described the peril of Soviet airborne troops establishing beachheads on Canadian soil, and the necessity of maintaining home defence forces to counter any such invasion.

General Walsh said the principle had now been established that two of the three army brigades now in Canada would be transported to Europe to "marry up" with the NATO army brigade.

Must Use Militia

But such a move, he said, would impose heavy drains on available manpower—and "to replace this manpower the only thing we can do is to avail ourselves of ex-Regulars and selected Militia personnel."

At no point did he mention the explosive topic of conscription, but he made it clear that when army force goals were cut from 59,000 to 50,000 in an austerity program last autumn, it left the army in a hard pressed condition to meet its commitments.

General Walsh outlines the army's equipment needs in addition to its manpower requirements, placing the emphasis on the Bobcat armoured personnel carrier as the item urgently needed.

Twenty prototype Bobcats are currently being produced for evaluation, following which a production order of 500 vehicles is expected.

NATO Force

General Walsh said the decision to deploy two additional brigades in NATO — even though they may not be moved into position immediately — involved detailed planning with the British War Office, since Canada's NATO troops are on the British supply system.

One of the brigade groups now in Canada could be move in a reasonably short time, he said and the second brigade group could be made available soon afterwards.

The question of stockpiling equipment for two reserve brigades in Europe had been looked at, he said, "but a preliminary study places the cost at approximately $135-million and a manpower requirements of at least 400 officers and men."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 20 April 2014

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero
Topic: British Army

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived

A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, Francis Law, 1983

In 1930 the regiment returned to London, this time to the Tower, and we took a house in Chelsea where our daughter Bridget was born. I had once been a keen, even an enthusiastic, soldier, but serious soldiering grew more and more difficult. I had commanded more men as a platoon commander on joining in 1915 than now as commander of a company. Reality vanished, make-believe was the order of the day. Flags and wooden rattles, not weapons, represented machine guns. Tanks were simulated by trucks marked with a large T or by cardboard shapes mounted on bicycles, antitank guns represented by green flags. There was little ammunition for range firing and few blank cartridges for exercises. Two men in canvas clothing carrying 'pole targets' with flapping strips of canvas represented a section, four such a platoon. Imagination was to be stretched to the limit and indeed far beyond. The pleasure of a day on horseback umpiring an exercise could not compensate for the stark unreality of the training: the whole thing was bogus.

The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived. Everything - books, the press, the theatre - all conspired to ridicule the services and those who served in them. In addition an economy axe was wielded ruthlessly to the satisfaction if not to the plaudits of a forgetful, complacent, thoughtless people, careless of the future which was to catch up with them in less than a decade. Professionally, like many another who had served in the war, I became increasingly sad and disillusioned. It was a time of deep frustration for any one who thought realistically and was eager to give useful service. With many another I was forced to question the wisdom of remaining in the army with its prospects so bleak, with no glimmer of light ahead. Married, with the prospect of yearly changes of house a strain on finances and the inevitable restrictions on our freedom, I decided in 1931 to retire from the army and joint the regular army reserve of the Irish Guards.

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 31 March 2014

Royal Canadian Rifles: Officers' Duties (1861)
Topic: British Army

The Royal Canadian Rifles

Canadian Military Heritage, Vol II, 1755-1871, Rene Chartrand, 1995

"In 1842 and 1843 the [British Army] regiments that had been brought in to deal with the 1838 emergency withdrew. In 1844, however, the regular British garrison in the Province of Canada, with its 7,700 soldiers, was still three times larger than it had been in 1837. But each year there were a few hundred fewer soldiers. Some did not wait for their regiment to return to England before they left Canada, preferring to go to the United States! The Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment was formed in 1840-41 precisely to put a stop to the exodus. It was not a Canadian regiment, as its name would suggest, but rather a unit of veterans from line regiments, and it was pat of the regular army. But its soldiers were not rotated; it was a Sedentary regiment whose companies were placed along the border to watch the United States, of course, but even more so to prevent deserters from going there."

Standing Orders of the Royal Canadian Rifles

May 1881

Officers on Regimental Duty.

The uniform of The Royal Canadian Rifles, as presented in Canadian Military Heritage, Vol II, 1755-1871, Rene Chartrand, 1995. (Reconstitution by Derek Fitzjames.)

Officers are specially warned against that worse than useless mode of visiting a guard, which consists only in receiving its salute.

1.     When the number of Officers at a post admit of it, there be a Captain and a Subaltern on duty.

The Captain from Rouse on Sunday morning until the following Sunday at the same hour;—the Subaltern from Rouse on one day will Rouse the next.

2.     If the number of Officers will not allow of the Captains having at least two weeks and the Subalterns five days clear, then the Orderly Officers' duty will be taken from the Senior Captain to the Junior Subaltern.

3.     As it is difficult to draw up a Report suitable to all posts and circumstances, a form for the time being will always be found for reference in the Orderly Room. The Report any portion of be numbered by paragraphs, and in the event of the duties not being performed, the number of the paragraph must nevertheless be inserted, and opposite to it the reason for the omission. The Captain will send in a report of what he has done with any remarks he has to make. He may call upon the Orderly Officer to perform any of his own duties, and in like manner he may notify to the Subaltern that he will take certain portions of the duties of the latter. In these cases, he will add to his own report what duties he has performed for the Subaltern, who is to be considered a sort of auxiliary to the Captain.

4.     As the Captain is on for a whole week, he need not confine himself to Barracks but the Subaltern must not leave them unless temporarily obliged to do so from the nature of his duties.

5.     When an Orderly Officer is stationed out of Barracks, he must confine himself to his quarters when not actually out on duty. Orderly Officers will attend all parades and drills with their Companies, unless otherwise ordered.

6.     An Orderly Officer visiting a guard, acts for the time being as on guard. He should enter the guard room, examine the boards of orders, and everything under charge. He will visit the sentries by day and night, observe whether they are officer soldier-like and alert on their posts, and personally ascertain that they know their orders. Officers are specially warned against that worse than useless mode of visiting a guard, which consists only in receiving its salute. Guards must be turned out at least once by day and once by night,— the day reckoning between guard-mounting and retreat, the night between that time and reveille. Ten o'clock p.m. is, from the custom of the service, recognised as the earliest hour for the night visit. The Orderly Officer, however, will not confine himself to any particular time, if he has reason to suspect laxity or irregularity.

A loose way of doing sentry duty appears to be very readily fallen into by old soldiers, and the Lieutenant-Colonel calls not only upon the officers on duty, but all officers and non-commissioned officers, to notice and report any instance of this that they observe on their walks.

7.     In the event of any complaint being made against rations of provisions, fuel, light, or forage, at the time of inspection, the Orderly Officer will stop the issue and report at once to the commanding or senior officer in barracks. (For further information in a ease of this kind, see Commissariat Regulations.) Any complaint made of rations after they are cooked, will be noticed in his report, unless the grievance was one that he was able to remedy then and there.

8.     The Orderly Officer will refrain from ordering men any punishment for irregularities that may come under his notice, but he will direct a report in writing to be made to the Captain of the Company, who will either dispose of the matter or submit it, if necessary, to the Commanding Officer. When such a case is settled by the Captain, he will write upon the report the punishment he ordered, and forward the same to the Orderly Room.

9.     The practice of the Orderly Officer allowing men who have been reported absent from Tattoo, but returning before "Lights out," to go to their rooms, has a bad tendency and must be discountenanced. Once a man is reported absent, he is guilty of a breach of regulations, and should be confined and brought before the Commanding Officer.

10.     It is not the duty of the Barrack Orderly Sergeant to look Orderly Officer when the bugle sounds. The Officer himself must find his way to barracks by the time his presence is required.

11.     The men will not commence their meals before the second bugle, but they are never expected to wait beyond that time, whether an Officer makes his appearance or not.

12. When there is a Captain and Subaltern on duty together, the latter will forward his report through the former.

13.     When visiting meals, barrack-rooms, cook-houses, rations, and school, the Orderly Officer may for the time lay aside his sword, though not his pouch-belt, which is the badge of duty.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Duke and His Soldiers
Topic: British Army

The Duke and His Soldiers

The Duke, by Philip Guedalla, 1931 (Wordsworth Military Library Edition 1997)

Portrait of Duke of Wellington, by George Dawe

Few themes, indeed, moved [Wellington] to eloquence except the imperfections of his human instruments. But there his language often verged on the sublime. Unwearying himself, he was unmerciful in his comments upon lack of energy in others; and exasperation frequently betrayed him into unpardonable generalisations. A fixed belief that insufficient inducements were offered to recruits had led him to the conclusion that " none but the worst description of men enter the regular service"; and from this premise he proceeded to the gravest disparagements of the men under his command. "The scum of the earth," he termed them, "the mere scum of the earth… The English soldiers are fellows who have all enlisted for drink — that is the plain fact—they have all enlisted for drink." This tone became habitual with him in later years, as a congenial antidote to the prevailing cant. For Wellington could not bear his hearers to be romantic about soldiers—" people talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling—all stuff—no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children—some for minor offences—many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are." They were fine fellows, then. He was prepared to admit as much; and for seven years in the Peninsula he toiled to make them so. Seven volumes of General Orders, drafted in his own handwriting and traced endlessly across the paper with " the short glazed pens " from Tabart's in New Bond Street, testify to his parental care. Crime is duly present; the crackle of illicit pig-shooting is heard; bee-hives are purloined; and the misdeeds peculiar to military operations in wine-producing countries stalk through his pages. But camp-kettles, shirts, and brushes haunted him; his dreams were full of army biscuit; and his housekeeping anxieties arc in strange contrast with the grave ablatives absolute of Ceasar or Napoleon's baroque eloquence. Supply was still the burden of his severely humdrum song. He still insisted that "it is very necessary to attend to all this detail, and to trace a biscuit from Lisbon into the man's mouth on the frontier, and to provide for its removal from place to place, by land or by water, or no military operations can be carried on, and the troops must starve." Even his strategy was dominated by the practical consideration that "a soldier with a musket could not fight without ammunition, and that in two hours he can expend all he can carry."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 22 February 2014

The British Royal Artillery (1893)
Topic: British Army

The British Royal Artillery

The Quebec Saturday Budget, 6 May 1893

The British Royal Artillery is a peculiar organization, constituting as it does only a single regiment. That regiment is, however, the largest in the world and comprises 1,700 officers and 35,400 men. From a lecture recently delivered by an officer of the Royal Artillery, I take the following interesting details concerning this arm of the service. It is divided into four branches, the Horse, Field, Mountain and Garrison Artillery. The Royal Horse Artillery has an establishment of 20 service batteries, the Field Artillery of 80, the Mountain of 10 and the Garrison of 72.

The role of the Horse Artillery is to operate in conjunction with cavalry, a part which it is well fitted to play by its great mobility; the role of Field Artillery is to operate with Infantry, whose movements being slower than the Cavalry, demand a less mobility from the Artillery that supports it. The Mountain Artillery as its name implies is for operation in mountainous or broken country unsuitable for horses or wheeled carriages.

The British Garrison Artillery has an establishment of 684 officers and 16,380 men stationed in every quarter of the globe, subdivided into three Grand Divisions, viz., the "Eastern," "Southern" and "Western." The strength of each company varies according to local requirements; the strongest is at Halifax, N.S., and consists of 316 of all ranks; the weakest consists of 99. Out of the Garrison Artillery a force of 1,200 are employed as Siege Artillery—four heavy Field Batteries for service in India and three companies as a Siege Train in England. The former are armed with 4 40-pounder R.M.L. Guns and 2 6.3" Howitzers, drawn by elephants and bullocks, the officers and some of the N.C.O's. Being mounted on horses, and such a diversity of animals has gained for them the nickname of "Menagerie Batteries." The Siege Train, it is observed, is a small one, consisting of only three companies. There have only been two important sieges undertaken by British arms in the last half of this century, viz: the sieges of Delhi and Sebastopol, and it is not considered necessary to maintain a large permanent Siege Train, but different companies are detailed to go through a course of practice in siege operations and bring at Siege camps of Instruction at Lydd and Chatham every year.

The Mountain Artillery are affiliated with the Garrison Artillery to the extent that the officers and men are appointed and drafted to it from the latter. It is a much coveted branch of the Artillery and special qualifications are required for it. It makes a valuable outlet for the Garrison Artillery and gives all ranks of this branch an opportunity of seeing active service which those employed exclusively in coast defence would otherwise not get. You will scarcely see an officer or man in a Mountain Battery who does not wear at least one war medal and often several, The same remarks applies in a less degree to the Heavy batteries in India.

The Field and garrison Artillery are not interchangeable, the authorities having come to the conclusion that an individual cannot be both an efficient Field Artilleryman and garrison Artilleryman at the same time, and that if he tries to, he will stand a good chance of resembling Dr. Johnson's Dragoon, who is defined by that great man in his dictionary as a "soldier who fights indifferently on horse and on foot!"

With regard to the Militia Artillery with Royal Artillery, the Irish and Scotch are affiliated with the Southern Division, and the Welsh to Western Division. They are under the General Officer Commanding and train in our forts with our guns. In 1885 the Hants Artillery Militia were embodied for nine months at Gosport and took over Fort Grange from the Royal Artillery.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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