The Minute Book
Saturday, 2 January 2016

Proud of Canadian Outfit
Topic: CEF

Proud of Canadian Outfit

Best Equipped Soldier in the World, Friends Claim
Complete Outfit Shown in Store Window Attracts Attention of Crowds

The [Spokane, Washington] Spokesman-Review, 3 October 1917

In proof of their contention that the Canadian soldier is the best equipped in the world, officials of the British and Canadian recruiting mission, W603 Sprague Avenue, yesterday placed the entire paraphernalia of a Canuck infantryman in the Riverside avenue window of the Owl drug store. With the figure of a soldier as the centerpiece the outfit fills virtually an entire window.

The soldier wears a complete uniform with puttees, army boots, Oliver belt equipment, knapsack, water bottle, ball pouches, haversack, cap and regimental insignia, and carries a Ross rifle with fixed bayonet. The rest of the equipment is displayed around him.

It includes a pair of canvas shoes and an extra pair of army boots, winter cap, overcoat, jacket sweater, overshoes, cap comforter, knitted, winter mitts, boot dressing, extra bootlaces, cloth, hair, shaving and tooth brushes, hair comb, two sets woolen underwear, knife fork and spoon, holdalls, housewife, clasp knife, service shirt and trousers, razor with case, two flannel shirts, two winter shirts, two pairs woolen socks, two hand towels, first field dressing, bottle water enamel, infantry whistle, mess tins ans trays, kit bag, bottle of oil, pull-through and lanyard clasp knife.

The complete outfit costs the Canadian government $95.31, and every soldier is given it the moment he enlists and reports for duty. The various pieces are replenished at the captain's order when one is worn out.

When the soldier lands in England his Ross rifle is supplanted by a Lee-Enfield, the official British arm, and his leather equipment is replaced by a web outfit. There he gets his entrenching tool. The Canadian soldier does not buy any part of his equipment except soap, and in the trenches he is furnished with soap, cigarettes, chewing and smoking tobacco and a dram of rum, which is issued daily. His entire equipment is kept up by the government.

Crowds of people were around the window all day yesterday and studied the outfit carefully. The most interested were the American soldiers.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 1 January 2016

Canada Will Have Own Flying Corps
Topic: RCAF

Canada Will Have Own Flying Corps

Borden Completes Arrangements to Maintain Two Squadrons
Large Force Engaged
Over Thirteen Thousand men From Dominion in Air Service

The Toronto World, 15 August 1918

Ottawa, Aug. 14.—The total number of Canadians of the strength of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service now amalgamated into the Royal Air Force stands at 13,495. This total comprises 1,008 officers seconded from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1,640 other ranks discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 10,603 enlisted in Canada for R.F.C. and R.N.A.S.; 94 loaned to the R.A.F. for airplane construction and 150 civilians who came to England at their own expense and enlisted in the air service.

On account of their special adaptability and initiative Canadians proved to be excellent as flying officers. It is understood that no less than 35 per cent. Of the actual flying officers in France are Canadians.

Sir Edward Kemp on his arrival in England as minister of overseas military forces instituted plans which would ensure Canada receiving both now and after the war her due measure of credit for what her airmen were actually accomplishing.

What has not been obtained will provide for a Canadian Flying Corps trained in all branches including organization, administration, and technical. Further, every officer to be connected with the administration of the Canadian Air Force, from the senior to the most junior rank, has had active service flying experience at the front.

To Keep Records

The preliminary step in the early discussions related to the establishment of a separate Canadian air force resulted in the decision of the imperial air ministry to maintain up-to-date records of the Canadians in the royal air force, their names to be grouped in a special Canadian section to include not only Canadian officers seconded from the Canadian overseas forces, but also those Canadian who joined the air service direct, either in England or Canada. The idea of Canadians in the Royal Air Force having a special Canadian distinguishing mark or badge on their uniform was also assented to, and it was agreed that the Canadian overseas ministry would be furnished with regular reports by the air ministry, giving full information of the exploits of Canadian airmen from month to month.

On the arrival in England of Sir Robert Borden, Sir Edward Kemp laid before him the agreement with the air ministry, embodying what had been accomplished, and the further consent of the air ministry that as soon as possible the Canadian air force should be formed, to be manned and officered exclusively by Canadians drawn from Canadians now in the R.A.F., reinforcements for the Canadian air force to be supplied wholly by Canadians who would be trained in the R.A.F. schools and under their instructors.

Entire acceptance was expressed by Air Edward Kemp to the scheme by his colleagues and the agreement approved.

As a preliminary step in the organization, the service of the distinguished flying officer, Major W.A. Bishop, was applied for to work in close conjunction with the air ministry and the Canadian overseas ministry.

It was decided to proceed immediately with the organization of the two Canadian squadrons, which would form part of the overseas military forces of Canada and be subject to the provisions of the Militia Act of Canada.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year, a German Soldier's View
Topic: The Field of Battle

New Year, a German Soldier's View

Werner Liebert, German Army, quoted in Jon E. Lewis, The Mammoth Book of War Diaries and Letters; Life on the battlefield in the words of the ordinary soldier, 1775-1991, 1998

January 3rd, 1915

I have lit a pipe and settled myself at the table in our cow-house in order to write home, where they are certainly looking for news again. The pipe tastes good and the old soldier is also otherwise all right.

New Year's Eve was very queer here. An English officer came across with a white flag and asked for a truce from 11 o'clock till 3 to bury the dead (just before Christmas there were some fearful enemy attacks here in which the English lost many in killed and prisoners). The truce was granted. It is good not to see the corpses lying out in front of us any more. The truce was moreover extended. The English came out of their trenches into no-man's-land and exchanged cigarettes, tinned-meat and photographs with our men, and said they didn't want to shoot any more. So there is an extraordinary hush, which seems quite uncanny. Our men and theirs are standing up on the parapet above the trenches …

That couldn't go on indefinitely, so we sent across to say that they must get back into their trenches as we were going to start firing. The officers answered that they were sorry, but their men wouldn't obey orders. They didn't want to go on. The soldiers said they had had enough of lying in wet trenches, and that France was done for.

They really are much dirtier than we are, have more water in their trenches and more sick. Of course they are only mercenaries, and so they are simply going on strike. Naturally we didn't shoot either, for our communication trench leading from the village to the firing-line is always full of water, so we are very glad to be able to walk on the top without any risk. Suppose the whole English army strikes, and forces the gentlemen in London to chuck the whole business! Our lieutenants went over and wrote their names in an album belonging to the English officers.

Then one day an English officer came across and said that the Higher Command had given orders to fire on our trench and that our men must take cover, and the (French) artillery began to fire, certainly with great violence but without inflicting any casualties.

On New Year's Eve we called across to tell each other the time and agreed to fire a salvo at 12. It was a cold night. We sang songs, and they clapped (we were only 60-70 yards apart); we played the mouth-organ and they sang and we clapped. Then I asked if they hadn't got any musical instruments, and they produced some bagpipes (they are the Scots Guards, with the short petticoats and bare legs) and they played some of their beautiful elegies on them, and sang, too. Then at 12 we all fired salvos into the air! Then there were a few shots from our guns (I don't know what they were firing at) and the usually so dangerous Verey lights crackled like fireworks, and we waved torches and cheered. We had brewed some grog and drank the toast of the Kaiser and the New Year. It was a real good "Silvester", just like peace-time!

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Gets a Fortune
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Gets a Fortune

Private in London, Ont., a Joint Heir to $145,000

Ottawa Citizen, 9 March 1908

London, Ont., March 5.—Unless by some vagary of disposition to remain in his present quarters, the dull routine and everyday discipline of the life of a regular in Wolseley Barracks will speedily come to a close for private Patrick Kirby.

$145000 Cdn in 1908 would be worth over $3 million in 2015

For a year Kirby, who is a young Englishman about 27 years of age, tall, muscular and well put up, with a clean open face, surmounted by a closely cropped head of brown hair, has drilled and dressed and marched and performed the ordinary duties of a common everyday soldier in the piping times of peace, and if he ever had any expectation that his father, a wealthy stationer in Warwick, by his death was to leave him co-heir to $145,000 he never mentioned it to his fellow red-coats, but immediately on receipt of the information that he had fallen into a fortune he made preparations to give the entire regiment a glorious blow out.

J.E. Lowe, a teller in the Dominion bank here, while looking over an old country paper yesterday noticed that owing to the death of their father in Warwick, England, two young brothers, Patrick and Albert Kirby, were the direct heirs to an approximate fortune of $145,000. The thought struck him that as the despatch stated that Patrick Kirby, the younger brother, was missing for over a year he might possibly be at Wolseley Barracks. Consequently, he communicated with Col. McDougall and upon looking up the rolls it was found that a private named Patrick Kirby had been enlisted for nearly a year. He was called into the colonel's office and speedily identified himself as the Patrick Kirby who was heir to a fortune. The news was noised about the barracks, and as Kirby is very popular among his fellow soldiers he was the object of much felicitation, and has made arrangement to entertain the entire regiment to a supper as soon as the first installment comes.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Topic: Militaria


"Blasts from the Trumpet," Quebec Daily Telegraph, 21 Aug 1900

Speaking of khaki, Ella Hepworth Dixon says, "There is something at once modest and business-like about khaki. It is the least arrogant, the least pretentious of colours. Like the violet, it challenges your notice not at all. It says alike to the Mauser bullet, the Vickers-Maxim machine gun and the eye of the casual spectator; I entreat you not to notice me. I am out on my own affairs—a mere little business of my own. But in all probability I shall succeed. The gay pomp and circumstance of war have gone, it would seem, for good. No more fighting in waving plumes, bearskins, plaid kilts, hussar jackets and glittering gold lace. These fineries may hearten the wearer, but they are also admirable objects at which the enemy may shoot, and bring down his man. Depend upon it, before this South African war is over, every continental army will be thinking of the necessity for clothing its troops in khaki, which will be good for Manchester." Even field glasses in South Africa are considered fire magnets, as are blue shirts in China.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 28 December 2015

Royal Canadian Navy Knows How to Cook!
Topic: Army Rations

Royal Canadian Navy Knows How to Cook!

Ottawa Citizen, 21 May 1955

A request from a woman in North Rugby, England, proves that navy food is very definitely not forgotten. The memory, apparently pleasant, still lingers after 11 years.

Recently in the mail of the commanding officer, HMCS Niobe, Canadian naval headquarters in the United Kingdom, was a request for the recipe of "a type of flapjack and sauce" served in a wartime ship of the RCN.

The writer of the letter, Mrs. D. Emmony, stated that her husband, a Royal Marine, served in the Canadian auxiliary cruiser Prince David during 1944 and was served with the pancakes ‘and sauce" every morning for breakfast.

Tracing Begins

Tracing action began with the forwarding of Mrs. Emmony's request to the officer-in-charge, HMC Supply School, on the West Coast, with a copy to the Naval Secretary, Ottawa. An accompanying comment explained that the recipe for pancakes contained in the RCN Recipe Manual had not been sent "since undoubtedly Mrs. Emmony desires to provide for the needs on an ordinary household rather than a hundred hungry sailors."

By coincidence, the man who was the senior cook in the Prince David in 1944, CPO William Allan Stockley, of Esquimalt, B.C., was senior cookery instructor and divisional chief petty officer in the cookery school on the West Coast when her letter arrived. His recipe for griddle cakes was sent to Mrs. Emmony, along with that of an alternative sauce in the evnt that Canadian maple syrup is not obtainable in the United Kingdom.

CPO Stockley hopes his private formula will fulfil the request of the Englishwoman and satisfy the appetite of her ex-Royal Marine husband. His batter will make 16 four-inch hot cakes.

Superlative Hot Cakes

Flour, 2 egg whites, 2 egg yolks, 1 ½ cups fresh milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter or shortening, 3 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon sugar.

Sift flour, then measure 2 cups. Combine all dry ingredients, blend well. Separate eggs, add yolks only to milk and beat lightly. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until they form peaks but still maintain moist appearance.

Now add milk and egg yolk mixture to dry ingredients, when thoroughly blended add melted shortening or butter. Last fold in, do not beat, the egg whites. Hot cakes should not be tirned on the griddle until holes appear and remain on the uncooked side.

Maple Syrup

Probably the "sauce" referred to in Mrs. Emmony's letter.

The best syrup to use would be a Canadian Maple Syrup, in the event that this is unobtainable in the U.K. the following recipes are enclosed.

Heat 1 cup of golden syrup and add Maple flavoring to taste or boil together for 2 minutes; 1 cup water, 2 cups brown sugar. Add a few drops of maple flavouring to taste. Servce hot.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 27 December 2015

Militia Estimates 1903
Topic: Canadian Militia

Militia Estimates 1903

"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 28 February 1902

The following are the estimates required for the militia of Canada for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1903.

  • Headquarters and district staff; $43,100.
  • Pay of permanent corps, including allowances for lodging, winter kits, fitting clothing, officers' messes, mens' reading rooms, etc.; $225,000.
  • Pay of active militia attending schools of instruction; $45,000.
  • Allowances for drill instruction, care of arms, postage, stationary to the active militia; $75,000.
  • Guards of honour, escorts, salutes and pay of active militia on special duty; $4,000.
  • Annual drill of the militia and musketry, including stores and all expenses in connection therewith; $520,000.
  • For salaries and wages of superintendents of stores, inspectors of clothing, and miscellaneous employees; $90,000.
  • For maintenance of military properties; $25,000.
  • For construction and repairs; $155,000.
  • For rations, forage, fuel, light and supplies, generally for permanent corps and schools of instruction, including remounts; $130,000.
  • For transport and cartage of military stores; $20,000.
  • Grants in aid of Dominion, provincial, and battalion, artillery and rifle associations, military corps, bands and military institutes; $38,000.
  • For miscellaneous and unforeseen expenses; $22,000.
  • Royal Military College, for all expenses in connection, except repairs to buildings; $75,000.
  • Dominion Arsenal, for all expenses except repairs to buildings; $150,000.
  • For contribution to His Majesty's Government and maintenance of local force at Esquimalt; $114,703.
  • For purchase of land for rifle ranges; $75,000.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 26 December 2015

Topic: Discipline


Instructions to the Third United States Army, General George S. Patton, Jr., 3 April 1944

1.     There is only one sort of discipline—PERFECT DISCIPLINE . Men cannot have good battle discipline and poor administrative discipline.

2.     Discipline is based on pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so engrained that it is stronger than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.

3.     The history of our invariably victorious armies demonstrates that we are the best soldiers in the world. This should make your men proud. This should make you proud. This should imbue your units with unconquerable self-confidence and pride in demonstrated ability.

4.     Discipline can only be obtained when all officers are so imbued with the sense of their awful obligation to their men and to their country that they cannot tolerate negligence. Officers who fail to correct errors or to praise excellence are valueless in peace and dangerous misfits in war.

5.     Officers must assert themselves by example and by voice. They must be pre-eminent in courage, deportment, and dress.

6.     One of the primary purposes of discipline is to produce alertness. A man who is so lethargic that he fails to salute will fall an easy victim to the enemy.

7.     Combat experience has proven that ceremonies, such as formal guard mounts, formal retreat formations, and regular and supervised reveille formations, are a great help, and, in some cases, essential, to prepare men and officers for battle, to give them that perfect discipline, that smartness of appearance, that alertness without which battles cannot be won.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 25 December 2015

Topic: Army Rations


"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Saturday Budget, 13 September 1902

As all who have anything to do with the British army are aware, Tommy Atkins is very fond of sweets, and it is not surprising to learn, therefore, from Mr. Brodrick, that no less a quantity than 34,582,762 lbs, of jam were consumed by the army during the recent war in South Africa. The bulk of this jam was manufactured in the United Kingdom, the rest going from the Colonies. Some one with a taste for figures has computed that in the year 1900 alone thirty train loads of jam, and 300 tins to a load, were sent to the front, and that the army in South Africa consumed more than half its own weight of jam in that time. Despite this enormous consumption of jam in the time of war, it is learned from Mr. Brodrick that it is not to be issued as a ration in peace. One cannot help thinking that this is a mistake. After all is said and done, jam is not an expensive luxury, and it is an indulgence that might well be granted the private soldier at a time when there is so much talk about the best method of inducing men to join the army.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas, 1914
Topic: The Field of Battle

Christmas, 1914

Frank and Maurice Wray, The London Rifle Brigade, "Christmas, 1914," Army Quarterly and Defence Journal, Vol. XCVII, October 1968 and January 1969

And so on Christmas Eve we settled down to our normal watch-keeping without relaxation and without any idea of what the immediate future was to bring. It soon became clear, however, by the sounds of activity coming from the opposite trenches that the Germans were celebrating Christmas Eve in their customary manner. They had brought up a band into their front line trenches, and, as we listened to hymns and tunes common to both nations, quite understandably a wave of nostalgia passed over us.

When it became quite dark the light from an electric pocket-lamp appeared on the German parapet. Normally this would have drawn a hail of bullets, but soon these lights were outlining the trenches as far as the eye could see and no sound of hostile activity could be heard. When the lights were dowsed we waited in the stillness of a beautiful night (nevertheless with the usual sentries posted and fully alert) for the dawn of the most remarkable Christmas Day that any of us was ever likely to see. As dawn was breaking a voice from the German trenches was heard, 'We good, we no shoot," and so was born an unofficial armistice.

After some initial caution the troops from both sides rose from their holes in the ground to stretch their legs and then to fraternize in "No Man's Land" between the trenches—a happy state of affairs which continued for about ten days. It became clear that the same extraordinary situation extended towards Armentieres on our right and Hill 60 on our left, as a battalion of the 10th Division on our left arranged a football match against a German team—one of their number having found in the opposing unit a fellow member of his local Liverpool football club who was also his hairdresser! Many souvenirs were exchanged, ranging from buttons and badges, a piece of cloth cut from a Saxon's overcoat (still in our possession), some cigars which had been received from the Kaiser (not very popular apparently, either cigars or donor!).

The prize souvenir, however, was a German Regular's dress helmet, the celebrated "Pickelhaube." Our currency in this piece of bargaining was bully beef and Tickler's plum and apple, so called, jam. They asked for marmalade, but we had not seen any ourselves since we left England. This helmet achieved fame as, on the following day, a voice called out, "Want to speak to officer," and being met in "No Man's Land" continued, "Yesterday I give my hat for the bullybif. I have grand inspection tomorrow. You lend me and I bring it back after." The loan was made and the pact kept, sealed with some extra bully! The spike from this helmet we still have.

This Elysian situation was not to last, and, incidentally, it was said to have caused some misgivings in the High Command, possibly owing to the disproportionate number of Germans emerging from the ground on Christmas morning. The end came when the word came over, "Prussians coming in here tomorrow," and so it was and we returned to the comparative safety of our holes in the ground.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Coaling Ship; a matter of pride
Topic: Drill and Training

Coaling Ship; a matter of pride

1899 – Coaling Battleships; A Matter in Which the British Navy Leads the Whole World

St John Daily Sun, 5 August 1899

H.M.S. Jupiter, Lough Swilly, July 24.—Today that portion of the fleet which arrived here on Saturday, viz., eight battleships and nine cruisers, has been bust coaling. Coaling ship has risen to the dignity of an evolution, and is considered as of much importance as sail drill was in the old days. A record in coaling now arouses as much pride as a record in crossing royal yards did in the time of the sailing ship. And it is not to be wondered at, for not only are coal and steam to the sailors of today what wind and sails were to their forefathers, but the exercise is one of the highest tests of thorough efficiency in a ship. Smart coaling shows a well-drilled ship's company, good comradeship in all ranks, intelligence and readiness of resource, in the officers smartness and alertness, and arouses the strongest esprit de corps.

Speed in coaling has, like almost everything else, and element of luck in it. The collier may be a bad one to work from, as, for instance, the one we have been coaling from today, which has one winch our of gear and the other two rob one another of steam. Of course the Temperley transporter is employed in this fleet, but besides it both ships' and colliers' winches are brought into play. The Temperly is so well known that it is scarcely necessary to describe it, but for the benefit of those unacquainted with this most ingenious device I may state its action. It is hung from the ship's derrick, one end being over the hold of the collier, and the other over the ship's hold. The whip runs the coal to the end of the Temperley, where the clutch is released, slides along the transporter and carries the bags to the other end to the point where they are to be lowered.

The record for coaling is held in this fleet of battleships by the Majestic, which took in no less than 197 tons in one hour, and averaged over 180 tons per hour. She had, of course, a splendid collier, and, moreover, and not to break bulk or sweep. A collier serves, say, three ships. The first will have to break bilk with the collier's cargo, and will perform the work somewhat slowly at first. The second ship will have the pull of both the others, for she will not have to break bulk or sweep. The third ship will have to do the sweeping, for she will have to take out all the coal that is in the collier, and will have to sweep the holds and collect all the coal at the end so as to entirely clean the ship out. And this is the case today with the Jupiter.

An impression prevails ashore that ships' crews get extra pay when involved in coaling. This is not the case. A few ratings, such as lampmen and machine servants, do get one shilling a day is employed coaling, but no others, though there is an allowance of 4s. 6d. per half year to bluejackets and marines to cover damage to clothing. And most decidedly 9s. per annum is a very small allowance for this purpose.

I believe that about 100 tons per hour, or something more, will be the average rate of coaling for the battleships. Apropos of this, the following figures as regards to coaling of the international squadron at Crete during the recent trouble in that island are worth giving. The French took in thirty to forty tons per hour; the Italians twenty tons; the Germans, Austrians and Russians averaged about ten; while to the amazement of our foreign comrades, the British took in their coal at a little over 100 tons per hour—one more proof of the tremendous superiority of the British navy over that of other navies.

elipsis graphic

Apparently, the dreadnought building naval arms race of the early 1900s was not competitive enough. The British and US Navies maintained an international spirit of competition with the pace at which crews transferred coal from lighters into their warships' coal bunkers:

1901 – Records for Coaling Ship — Massachusetts Leads the World with 248 Tons per Hour; Alabama, 222; Kearsarge, 219; and British Ariadne, 203 — Newport, R.I., Aug. 1—The battleship Massachusetts, so the statement is made here by a naval officer, holds the world's record for coaling ship. The British ship Adriane of the English channel squadron held the record till last spring, when the North Atlantic fleet coaled up at Pensacola. The Adriane's record was 203 tons an hour, but the Massachusetts at Pensacola, with flat lighters in use, put in 248 tons. The Kearsarge and the Alabama also beat the Adriane's record at the spring coaling in the South, the former putting in 218 tons an hour and the Alabama 22 tons. It is said these records have never been made public before. (Boston Evening Transcript, 1 Aug 1901)

1906HMS Euryalus, returning from the manoeuvres, made an interesting record in coaling. Twelve hundred and four tons were got into the bunkers in eight and a half hours, as average of 141.6 tons an hour, the best hour giving 165 tons. Seeing that the Euryalus is a training ship, and that the work was done by boys, this is a splendid record. ("Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Saturday Budget, 11 Aug 1906)

1906 – The battleship Victorious, while coaling at Gibraltar, took on board 900 tons at an average speed of 305.4 tons an hour. This establishes a new record in the British Navy. ("Blasts from the Trumpet," Quebec Saturday Budget, 20 Oct 1906)

1906 – The world's record for coaling has been broken by the new cruiser Duke of Edinburgh, which belongs to the Second Cruiser Squadron under the command of Rear-Admiral Prince Louis of Battenburg. She took on 1,420 tons of coal from the lighters at Gibraltar recently at an average rate of 316 tons an hour. ("Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Saturday Budget, 24 Nov 1906)

1907 – Broke Coaling Record — Newport, R.I., Dec. 4—The battleship Vermont of the Atlantic Squadron, which is soon to sail for the Pacific ocean, has won the Navy's record for coaling ships from four barges at the navy coaling station in Narraganset Bay, She averaged 255 tons per hour, against the battleship Virginia's record of 253 tons per hour. (Spokane Daily Chronicle, 4 Dec 1907)

Sadly, in an era when safety standards were certainly not what they would be in a modern military or industrial environment, accidents happened:

1906 – While the officers and men of H.M.S. Queen were trying to create a record in coaling at Cephalonia a bag of coal fell on the head of Lieutenant Gotto, and he died almost instantly. ("Blasts from the Trumpet," Quebec Saturday Budget, 20 Oct 1906)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Robert E. Lee's Seven Rules
Topic: Military Theory

Robert E. Lee's Seven Rules

Leadership Principles for the new ADP 6-22; A Monograph by Major Gregory W. McLean, US Army, SAMS, AY 2012-001

General Robert E. Lee, one of the most revered generals in the history of the United States, did not have a checklist, but he did teach maxims which he used to teach his subordinates. Lee had seven basic and universal rules:

1.     Never underestimate your adversary.

2.     Try to know what your adversary is going to do before he knows what you are to do.

3.     The offensive calls for surprise by inferior forces and for superior concentration at the critical point by equal forces.

4.     Every movement must be measured in terms of an early start, accurate staff work, the endurance of the troops, and the marching capacity of their leaders.

5.     The commander must have a good eye for ground.

6.     Always interpret strategy in terms of available position and line of march.

7.     Know your subordinates.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 10 December 2015 5:59 PM EST
Monday, 21 December 2015

Toronto Military Camp 1884
Topic: The RCR

Toronto Military Camp 1884

"Military Matters," The Toronto Daily Mail, 21 June 1884

Today a camp of nearly 2,000 men will be formed on the Garrison common for the purposes of military instruction. The officer commanding will be Col. Denison, D.A.G., of this district. It is fortunate in one way that the camp will be in Toronto. It will give many an opportunity of seeing citizen soldiery under canvas, while visiting Toronto during the Semi-Centennial celebration. It will also give the men themselves an opportunity of taking part in the celebration, a thing they would have been unable to do if the camp had been at Niagara.

There is this drawback, however. The location of military camps near large towns or cities always has a tendency to take the men away from their lines. The attractions offered by a large city are sufficient to keep many out after hours even when without the necessary pass. This leads, of course, to trouble on their return to camp, and a feeling that they are being hardly dealt with is often the result. It will save the men and officers and great deal of unnecessary trouble if all will make a point of being in before last post. Hitherto volunteer officers have been in the habit of coming into camp at every hour, and when challenged by the sentry the answer is "Officers," and they are allowed to pass to their quarters. Officers certainly have privileges not accorded to the rank and file, but surely they might set a good example to their men; even if they are privileged to remain out after the last post they might forego the pleasure, and let their men see they have an interest in their welfare, by remaining in camp and looking after their interests. There are too many officers even who are none too well posted in the field exercises and the Queen's regulations, to whom the perusal of these books would prove of far greater benefit than a trip to "downtown."

To the members of "C" Company Infantry School, who will be under canvas, the various corps will look for an example of soldierly bearing and discipline. All eyes, so to speak, will be upon them, and there is no doubt they will maintain the credit of their corps, and leave an impression upon their comrades from a distance that a "regular," after all, is worth imitating.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 20 December 2015

Army Cookery; Classes for Officers
Topic: Officers

Army Cookery; Classes for Officers

"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Saturday Budget
20 January 1906

In the past officers have been obliged to take the word of the sergeant-cook as law in connection with Army cookery. But this state of affairs will not last much longer, as it has been decided to form at Aldershot a class for officers at the Army School of Cookery. For many years this school of cookery has trained Army cooks, but hitherto the work has been confined to non-commissioned officers. The subject is now considered of such importance as to demand special supervision at the hands of a commissioned officer in each unit, and at present the quartermasters have been selected to attend this special course. Their duty will not only consist in the supervision of the cooking ion barracks, where there is every convenience, but in the field, where rough-and-ready methods have to be adopted, and where experience has shown the greatest necessity there is in our Army for an improvement.

"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Saturday Budget
20 October 1906

Imperial army officers have regularly to inspect their men's rations, but few of them have the knowledge to say whether the food has been properly cooked or not. Acting on a suggestion of the Duke of Connaught, the authorities have ordered the officers at Aldershot, immediately after the present manoeuvers, to undergo a course of cookery instruction in the school of cookery in the Badajoz Buildings, under the direction of Staff Sergeant-Major Herbert Wood.

To Major Home, D.A.G., is due the credit of working up the plans for the new course. The instructions will be of the most practical kind, and will include such subjects as selection of foods, "balancing of rations," the proper mingling of various articles in the dietary to obtain the best working results; the various methods of preparation, the building an maintenance of field kitchens, dietetic economy, the value and purchase of stores and the proper cooking of food. The construction and working of the field kitchens have been brought to a science at Aldershot, where many of them are to be seen.

"While it is not proposed to turn each officer into a chef, the military authorities are determined," said an officer at Aldershot yesterday, "to teach him what is proper messing for the men. A very large proportion of the officers are at present blissfully ignorant of the mysteries of food preparation, although they know well that 'an army marches on its stomach,' and that the p[roper cooking and serving of the men's food is of vital importance to good generalship."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 19 December 2015

Topic: RCN


From the Orders-in-Council documents archives on line by Library and Archives Canada, we find the following memorandum on commissioning and manning HMCS NIOBE and HMCS RAINBOW:

"Subject to approval of Treasury, Admiralty are prepared to sell 'Niobe' to Canadian Government for lump sum of £215,000 made up as follows—for ship in efficient seagoing and fighting condition, £160,000 – guns and torpedoes £20,000 – ammunition and packages, outfit only £25,000 – sea stores without coal £10,000."

From Graham Greene to Admiral Kingsmill, 10 December 1909

"Admiralty, S.W. 30th July, 1910.


"I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you for the information of the Secretary of State for the Colonies that they have under theur careful consideration the arrangements to be made in connection with the commissioning and manning of the two cruisers purchased by the Government of Canada.

"As the Secretary of State will remember the Admiralty undertook as part of the scheme discussed at the Imperial Conference to transfer to the Dominion Government two of the older cruisers of the Royal navy for use as training ships for the new naval service of Canada and at the same time they agreed that the two cruisers should be manned by volunteers from the officers and men or the Royal Navy, on the active or retired lists.

"The choice of the Canadian Government fell upon the 1st Class protected cruiser "Niobe" and the 2nd Class protected cruiser "Rainbow" and these two vessels will shortly be ready for commissioning. An agreement has been come to with the Department of the Naval Service of Canada as to the composition of the complements of the two cruisers and there is reason to expect that naval ratings will volunteer in sufficient number.

"The following general arrangements have been discussed with the Minister of Naval Service of Canada.

"As regards discipline it is proposed that the officers and men serving under the Canadian Government should be governed by the Naval Discipline Act as applied to the Canadian Naval Force by section 48 of the Naval Service Act passed this year by the Canadian Government, viz:

"The Naval Discipline Act, 1868 and the Acts in amendment thereof passed before Parliament of the United Kingdom for the time being in force, and the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, in so far as the said Acts, regulations and instructions are applicable, and except in so far as they may be inconsistent with this Act or with any regulations under this Act, shall apply to the Naval Service and shall have the same force in law as if they formed part of this Act."

"Owing however to the fact that legal questions have been raised as to the power of a Dominion Parliament to apply the Naval Discipline Act to officers and men serving in Dominion ships of war outside territorial waters and also as to the exact effect of such application of the same, whether within or without territorial waters, it has been agreed as a provisional measure, that the formal transfer of the cruisers wo the Canadian Government should be made on their arrival in Canadian waters, and that the vessels should be commissioned by the Admiralty for the voyage to Canada the officers and men selected being appointed to H.M. Ships "Niobe" and "Rainbow"in the same manner as if they were ships of war under the administration of the Admiralty. The Commanding Officers will be given directions to proceed to Canada in pursuance of the instructions of the Minister of the Naval Service and on arrival to place themselves under the Minister's orders.

"Although the Commissions given by the Admiralty to officers of the Royal navy remain in force wherever the officers may be serving, yet it is understood that the terms of the Naval Service Act of Canada may render it desirable that supplementary Commissions should be issued to them by the Canadian Government, and it is proposed, provisionally, to leave this point to the discretion of the Minister or Naval Service. The appointments already given by the Minister of Naval Service to the officers selected will take effect on the arrival of the vessels in Canadian waters, and on their transfer to the Canadian Government.

"My Lords are of the opinion that the legislative application of the Naval Discipline Act and King's Regulations to the Naval Force of Canada will be of very great advantage in maintaining that close connection between the Dominion Service and the Royal navy which was contemplated at the Imperial Conference last year, and they do not wish to cause any unnecessary delay in giving full effect to the arrangement proposed at the Conference; but it is essential that there should be no doubts as to the law governing the discipline of the officers and men lent to a Dominion Government and as to the general status and position of Dominion ships of war especially outside the territorial waters of the Dominions. It is proposed, therefore, to make these questions the subject of a further communication and in the meanwhile it is understood that the Canadian Government agree that the cruisers are not to leave the vicinity of the coasts of Canada or visit a foreign port without the concurrence of the Admiralty.

"As regards the engagement of volunteers from the Active and Reserve lists of the Royal Navy, ir is proposed that both classes of ratings should sign an agreement in the terms of the form annexed to this letter and that men in the Reserves should also sign and engagement to enter the Royal navy for service in the Canadian Naval Force, the period of such service being specific in the agreement. It is understood that men entered from the shore not being under any liability to service in the Royal Navy, will sign a separate engagement as approved by the Minister of the Naval Service.

"The pay and allowances of officers and men during the period of their engagement commencing from their appointment to the Cruisers will be in accordance with the scale approved by the Privy Council of Canada and communicated by the Minister of Naval Service. The whole charge for such pay will fall upon the Canadian Government.

"Active service officers and men will draw no pay and allowances from Imperial funds, but will be entitled to count their agreed service in the Canadian Naval Force as Naval service in accordance with Admiralty regulations. Royal Fleet Reserve men, Class A, and Pensioners not in the Royal Fleet Reserve, will continue to draw their Naval pensions from Imperial funds. Royal Fleet Reserve men, Class A, will be entitled to count their service in the Canadian Naval Force, if satisfactory, as qualifying service, in that Class of Reserves, for a Royal Fleet Reserve Pension. Royal Fleet Reserve men, Class B, will be discharged from the Reserve on re-entering the Royal Navy for service with the Canadian Government. They will not draw their retainers while so employed, but they will be re-enrolled in the Reserve on return to the United Kingdom and will be entitled to count their service in the Canadian Naval Force, if satisfactory, as qualifying service for a Royal Fleet Reserve Pension or gratuity on discharge. During their service in the Canadian Naval force men of the Royal Fleet Reserve will be abolished from the necessity of performing drills as members of the Reserve.

"Looking to the fact that the Imperial Government will be liable for the retired pay, service pensions or gratuities of officers and men lent to the Canadian Government it is considered that the Dominion Government should bear the charge for such proportion of the retired pay, pension or gratuity as may be due to actual paid service in the Canadian naval force. The basis on which such a payment should be made by the Canadian Government and its scope is being discussed separately, and it is not expected that there will be any difficulty in settling the details of an arrangement acceptable to both Governments.

"My Lords desire me to request that the Secretary of State will communicate the substance of this letter to the Government of Canada and to state that they will be glad to receive by cable as soon as possible an intimation of the consurrence of the Dominion Government in the genral arrangements referred to herein.

"I am, etc., (Sd.) W.J. Evans, pro Secretary."

elipsis graphic

Memorandum of Conditions of Service In the Canadian Naval Force

The service of Volunteers in the Canadian Naval Force will be subject to the following conditions.

Men in the Reserves and Pensioners will sign the usual engagement form to join the Royal Navy for 'x' years for service in the Canadian Naval Force. Volunteers from the Active List will serve for two years in the Canadian Naval Force. All classes will be subject during such service to Naval Discipline. They will receive from the Canadian Government the pay and allowances and clothing, &c., prescribed in the regulations issued by the Minister of Marine and except those who are Naval pensioners and will continue to draw their pensions, they will not be entitled to any pay or allowances from the Admiralty.

Leave with pay will be granted as prescribed in the regulations referred to above: it may be taken annually or allowed to accumulate and be taken at, but prior to, the termination of the period of service. Service in the Canadian Naval Force will count as Naval service in accordance with Admiralty Regulations.

Passage to England will be provided by the Canadian Government on termination of the engagement.

I hereby acknowledge that I have read the foregoing and agree to serve under the conditions mentioned above.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 18 December 2015

Lord Roberts' Advice to Officers
Topic: Leadership

Lord Roberts' Advice to Officers

"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 23 August 1902

Never did a Commander-in-Chief offer more valuable advice than did Lord Roberts when addressing some future officers at Woolwich Military Academy lately. He said it was desirable that Cadets should all know what soldiers were. They had to command them, they had to instruct them and judge whether they did their work properly. Let them remember to do all they possibly could for the men under their command, to think of them, to watch over them, and to see that they had all possible assistance. A soldier's life sometimes was irksome and a great deal might be done by the officers. Whatever they did. Whatever time they spent looking after the men, they might depend upon it, they would be repaid in the time of trouble and in the time of wear, or of shipwreck, for their men would stand by them. Never let their men use a bad word; they themselves must set the example.

Want of sympathy with their men and absolute disregard or Tommy's comfort and convenience are only too common among the generality of officers, and for the welfare of the British Army it is to be hoped that the remarks of Lord Roberts will be brought to the notice of all Army officers.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 17 December 2015

Wolseley Barracks Heating Plant
Topic: Wolseley Barracks

Wolseley Barracks Heating Plant

Anyone familiar with Wolseley Hall in London, Ontario, the original home of "D" Company of the Canadian Infantry School Corps, is familiar with the two views shown below. The iconic tower in the east wing of the "U" shaped building, formerly a carriageway and now the entry hall for The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, and the smokestack at the south end of the parade square are well known to generations of soldiers who lived and trained here and to citizens of London.

It's easy to look at a familiar image and think there's nothing new to see. But compare the parade square image above with this one:

Note the smoke stack. Look closely at the postcard image, you will note the appearance of a low wide building at the base of the stack. This is not the image of the Wolseley Barracks parade square you thought you were familiar with.

The original design and construction of Wolseley Barracks included a boiler house set in the centre of the south end of the parade square.

This boiler house provided heat to the building via a steam pipe tunnel to the south wing. When this proved inadequare, additional steam pipes were run directly to the east and west wings. But this was still not sufficient for the frigid depths of Canadian winters. In 1898 a new system was installed, with large boilers in the basement of each wing to provide heat. This latter system also had its problems, including the 1903 explosion of twin boilers under the officers' mess in the south wing, an accident which resulted in the deaths of two soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

It is unlikely that the colour photos of the postacard were taken in 1898 or earlier, which leads to the question of when, exactly, the boiler house and smokestack were removed from the parade square.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 17 December 2015 12:10 AM EST
Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Commodore says Navy run like Private Club
Topic: RCN

Commodore says Navy run like Private Club

Ottawa Citizen; 26 August 1963

"Commodore James Plomer launched a potentially damaging attack on the Canadian Naval establishment. In a wide-ranging, highly critical article published by Maclean's magazine on 7 September 1963, the recently retired Plomer systematically attacked the RCN's managment system, its equipment, its ability to confuct operations at seas and its personnel policies. Although Plomer's assertions were later repudiated and puiblicly shown to be self-serving, his onslaught did produce some fallout — especially in his criticism of the GP frigate program."

The Admirals: Canada's Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century, by Michael Whitby, Richard H. Gimblett, Peter Haydon; 2006

Toronto (CP)—Retired RCN Commodore James Plomer says a "self-perpetuating, self-electing" group of admirals is running the Royal Canadian Navy like a private club.

He makes the charge, and many others, in an article entitled The Gold-Braid Mind is destroying our Navy in the Sept. 7 issue of Maclean's magazine.

Commodore Plumer, former deputy naval comptroller who resigned last spring, says the navy has a fleet of ships which are "badly chosen, badly equipped and poorly manned."

"In my view, the people of Canada have been badly hoodwinked, both through press releases of the navy and through various ministers of defence, who have themselves been misinformed by their naval advisers," Commodore Plomer writes. He was formerly senior Canadian officer afloat.

"Canadian admirals have come to believe in themselves as a social institution, a marching society, a kind of Tammany Hall. Arrogantly, they believe that military law, the Naval Discipline Act and pageantry are all we need to make a modern navy."

Obsessed with Pomp

"Childish obsession with the pomp of a bygone age" was far stronger in the RCN than in any modern nanvy.

In the RCN's "parade-ground psychology," fresh paint on ships "means praise, whatever the internal shambles."

"Officers who have failed quickly under operational stress have become admirals. So have officers who dress up in sailor suits but rarely go to sea—the last admiral I worked for had been to sea less than two months since before the start of the war."

The admirals manipulated appointments "with all the underhandedness of a bungling, devitalized Mafia—but more gorgeously attired."

Commodore Plomer says morale is so low in the RCN, ships are unable to function effectively and many vessels break down during exercises.

He says he doesn't know of a single case where a commanding officer has faced a board of inquiry for even the grossest neglect of his ship.

He has made repeated representations to three admirals and two chiefs of naval staff on the condition of ships.

Reports Ignored

"My reports have been either politely or rudely ignored."

The admirals "have for years demonstrated an unholy genius for buying the wrong equipment."

The aircraft carrier Bonaventure was too slow, was not designed for the North Atlantic, had "obsolete" anti-aircraft guns and her accommodations was substandard and crowded.

It had taken six years and a "fantastic amount of money" to get three-inch destroyer guns in working order.

Commodore Plomer's charges are likely to be aired before the Commons defence committee this fall.

There was no immediate official comment from the Navy. Unofficially, it was said the charges have a kernel of truth in them but that Commodoe Plomer had overstated the case.

elipsis graphic

Commodore James Plomer, OBE, DSC*, CD

The following synopsis of Commodore Plomer's career is published at

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The 1st Battalion's Other Triple-MM
Topic: CEF

The 1st Battalion's Other Triple-MM

Many Canadians will have seen at least passing reference to Francis Pegahmagabow in news feeds or social media if they have any interest in the First World War. Canada's most decorated First Nations soldier of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), Pegahmagabow was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in battle three separate times. His medals are now on display in the Canadian War Museum. Pegahmagabow served in the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, a unit of the CEF that is now perpetuated by The Royal Canadian Regiment.

But few Canadians are aware that 38 other men also received the Military Medal (MM) three times. This short list, out of 12341 recipients of the MM (1235 men received it twice), also includes a second three time recipient from the same battalion as Francis Pegahmagabow.

178218 Private William Anson Ogilvie was a miner and prospector in Porcupine, Ontario, when he enlisted for service in the CEF. Ogilvie joined the 87th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Canadian Grenadier Guards) at St. John's Quebec, on 17 February, 1916. 33 years old when he enlisted, Ogilvie was described as 5 feet 10 inches in height with a 44 in chest, dark complexion, grey eyes and dark hair.

The 87th Battalion, on reaching England, was absorbed into the reinforcement system supporting the Canadian Corps in France and Flanders. Ogilvie joined a draft of reinforcement for the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion.

The Gazettes for William Anson Ogilvie' Military Medal awarded were published as follows:

  • Military Medal – 9 July 1917 (possibly a Vimy Ridge action)
  • 1st Bar – 11 February 1919
  • 2nd Bar – 23 July 1919

The list of triple Military Medal recipients as shown in John Blatherwick's Canadian Army; Honours – Decorations – Medals, 1902-1968 is shown below. This out of print reference is a valuable addition to any Canadian Army researcher's library.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 15 December 2015 8:02 AM EST
Monday, 14 December 2015

Scientific Support for Scarlets
Topic: Militaria

Scientific Support for Scarlets

"Blasts from the Trumpet," The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 11 February 1902

Several reasons are urged by scientific and military experts in favour of our infantry soldiers wearing scarlet coats. In the first place, scarlet affords the best attainable protection against the extremes of heat and cold to which soldiers are liable to be exposed. The darker the color protecting a warm body, the more rapidly radiation proceeds. With reference to protection from the sun, scarlet takes a far higher place than any of the blues, greens, or drabs and other shades often used for military clothing. Although scarlet or red is more conspicuous than grey when the sun shines directly on the troops it blurs on the sight and is consequently more difficult to hit. It is a distinct advantage that our men should bulk large in the decisive stages of an encounter, and there is no color which enables them to do this so effectively as scarlet. On the whole therefore every scientific consideration justifies the retention of scarlet as the best uniform for our troops.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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