The Minute Book
Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Offensive in War (Liddell Hart)
Topic: Military Theory

The Offensive in War

Defence the Best Strategy—True Strategy in the West

By Captain B.H. Liddell Hart
The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 October, 1939

[In the following article, Captain Liddell Hart, who has for long been regarded as one of the most brilliant military critics in Britain, examines the basic problem of modern warfare with results which both illuminate and vindicate the course taken by the Allied High Command on the Western Front.]

The idea of an irresistible offensive dominates the official doctrines of the Continental military machines which admit no aim less than that of victory achieved by the complete destruction of the opposing forces in battle.

German military literature is lit up with the theme of the "blitzkrieg"—the lightning war. The Italian military authorities made the pronouncement only a few years ago that "trench warfare is obsolete"—because "the first onslaught of tanks and fast-moving vehicles would break through trench-lines, force fighting into the open and make movements so rapid that nothing would be gained by digging new trenches." Their experience in Spain may have disillusioned them—but the military hierarchy everywhere has hitherto shown a much greater capacity for explaining away its mistakes than for overcoming more concrete obstacles.

The new Field Service Regulations of the Russian Army, issued after the Spanish War had been in progress for some time, declare: "the fundamental aim of the Soviet Union in any war which is forced upon it will be to secure a decisive victory and utterly overthrow its enemy … The enemy must be caught throughout the whole depth of his position and there encircled and destroyed. Modern technical means make possible the simultaneous defeat of the enemy along the whole of his battle front and throughout the whole depth of his position." The steam-roller of 1914 has become, in theory, the mechanized avalanche of 1939.

Limits of the Offensive

The case for the offensive is so obvious that it can be expressed briefly. Indeed, it can be epitomised in a single sentence—only by the offensive can an enemy country, or position be occupied, and its surrender compelled. It is thus the only way in which a war, or a battle, can be won in the precise sense of the term. Furthermore, the offensive has great psychological advantages as a means towards this end—because it keeps the initiative over the opposing command, and acts as a tonic to one's own troops so long as it produces result proportionate to the effort expended.

The offensive, however, is the more exhausting form of action. Nothing does more to ruin any force, or nation, then offensives which show no profit commensurate with their cost. The sands of history are littered with the wrecks of kingships which set their compass on an offensive course. Napoleon is the greatest of all these wrecks. Yet his career came to its disastrous end before the tide of the attack itself was on the ebb.

While recent wars have provided abundant examples of offensives failing, they have provided a few examples of these succeeding—up to a point. But it is difficult to find any cases where the attacker has not had an immense superiority of armament or the defender has not been in a state of declining morale from other causes. Even the best offensive technique developed from prolonged experiment in the course of the last war required a quantitative superiority of nearly three to one to make an offensive effective. There appears little likelihood of such favourable odds in the Western theatre of war. To organise and train an army primarily for the offensive is therefore to stake the national fortunes on a very dark horse.

Lessons of 1870

Soldiers who oppose the idea of defence by defence commonly support their abstract argument against it by citing the experience of the 1870 war as proof of its dangers. They assert that the French suffered defeat by adopting the defensive as a deliberate policy on the assumption that it would enable them to profit by their superior firearms, the needle-gun in particular. Even if such a belief were well founded the argument from it would not be a credit to the mental adaptability of those who employ it. For, in view of the immense development in weapons, a failure of the tactical defensive more than half a century back, even if it were true, would not be a reasonable ground for dismissing all the evidence of the power of defence under modern conditions. The weapons of 1870 were not the weapons of 1914, still less the weapons of 1939. But it is not even true that the French doctrine was defensive.

The notion that the French came to disaster by relying on the tactical defensive is merely a myth which gained currency by constant repetition on the part of the French advocates of the "offensive a outrance" during the generation which preceded the last war. The myth does not stand examination. While the German successes mere maintained merely due to strategic manoeuvre, helped by their great superiority of numbers, the French vied with them in attempting attacks—which were crushed by the superior German artillery. The actual policy which the French adopted was the tactical offensive combined with the strategic defensive—if what was really strategic paralysis caused by epidemic incompetence can be thus described. This combination was the opposite of what I suggest. Only on rare occasions did the French take up a defensive position proper, and then repulsed attacks with striking success. The disregard of these lessons by the "offensive" zealots of the next generation showed how often military theory is built on faith instead of a dispassionate analysis of facts. Likewise, the repetition of this 1870 myth as an argument to-day shows how far the case against the defensive is based on emotional repugnance rather than on scientific investigation.

A National Nightmare

Under present conditions it would be unwise for Britain and France to attempt an offensive strategy in the West, at any rate, in the early stages of the war. This should become clear when the potential strengths of the rival armies is considered, since no skill of general ship would be likely to achieve a local concentration of sufficient superiority.

In the West, the ratio of space to force is such as to offer no adequate scope for an offensive strategy against opponents who are at least equal in equipment. Battering rams also, are out of date. In face of such conditions, nothing could be more dangerous to the capacity of Britain and France than to indulge in a combined general offensive which suffered a costly repulse. In the tactical sphere, the costliest fiascoes of the last war were the attempt to carry out the old conception of a "holding attack"—in which more slender resources are used than those required for a decisive attack. By 1918, all the armies had learnt by hard experience the uselessness of this method. It would be madness to reproduce it on a greater scale in the strategic sphere.

On the other hand, the advantage of the general defensive could be enhanced, its risks diminished, and its common value increased by combining it with a "harassing offensive." This could be pursued by:—

(1)     Carrying out local or limited attacks, carefully mounted as a surprise, and with the maximum fire-power, against weak points on the main front;

(2)     Utilising artillery fire and air bombing to harass the enemy's routes of supply and rest camps;

(3)     Utilising sea power to isolate, and then to concentrate a decisive superiority of land force against detached bases and territories which the opponent cannot reinforce. As regards this, it must be appreciated, however, that a landing on a hostile shore has become almost impossible unless the defender's air force can be dominated.

Wellingtons_squares_crop_rd700px.jpg

(4)     Utilising sea power and air power combined to cause a general disturbance of the enemy's system of supply and internal life. So far as there is any scope for the offensive in modern war between more or less evenly matched opponents it seems it lie in developing such a super-guerrilla form of warfare.

Defence as Attack

Above all, it should be realised that defence is a psychological attack—on the mind and morale of the enemy's peoples. Now that professional armies have been superseded by nations in arms, these have to be convinced of the justification for the war aims of their Governments and High Commands. Nations contain far more discordant elements than professional armies, and are inherently more susceptible to internal disruption. It is easier to launch a nation into an aggressive war than to hold together its multitudinous components in a prolonged struggle, and maintain their will to continue fighting for palpably aggressive aims. If such an attack is met by attack the aggressor Government is enabled to consolidate its people by representing to them that they are fighting to defend their homes.

Such misrepresentation becomes far more difficult to maintain if the attack is met by defence. This tends to weaken the will of the enemy people, and foster unrest among them, by making it clear that their rulers are the aggressors and are responsible for keeping alight the cauldron in which the nation's manhood is consumed. This state of mind, and loss of spirit, will develop all the sooner if the offensive campaign produces no results comparable with its cost. There is nothing more demoralising to troops than to see the corpses of their comrades piled up in front of an unbroken defence, and that impression soon filters back to the people at home. Locally, where conditions are favourable, it may still be true that "attack is the best defence." But, on the whole, in a modern war of peoples a new truth is becoming apparent—that defence is the best attack.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 12 March 2016

Active Militia; Officers of the Day
Topic: Officers

Active Militia; Officers of the Day (1868)

The Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C.V.M., 1868

Form of Report for the Captain of the Day

Place.
Date.

As captain of the day, yesterday, I visited the right or left wing (as the case may be) of the barracks, at the hours of breakfast and dinner; found the messing good, the men all present, the barracks clean and regular, and no complaints, (or otherwise).

I visited the guard by day, and found I visited the all correct, (or otherwise).

I visited the hospital and school, and found them clean and orderly.

Enclosed is the report of the subaltern of the day.

Signature

Report of the Subaltern of the Day

Date.
Place.

1.—Bread and Meal.—As subaltern of the day yesterday, I attended at the delivery of bread and meat, and found them of good quality and the bread of proper weight, or otherwise.

2.—Meals.—I visited the right or left wing (as the case may be) of the barracks at the hours of breakfast, and dinner, and evening meal, found the Messes regular, well supplied, the men all present, and no complaints, (or otherwise).

3.—Guards and Prisoners.—I visited the different guards and sentries by night, also the prisoners in the guard room, defaulters' room, and cells, and found all correct, (or otherwise.)

4.—School.—I visited the school of the non-commissioned officers and the canteen; found everything correct and regular.

5.—Tattoo.—I attended at the hour of Tattoo when all the non-commissioned officers were reported present and regular, and the men reported all present, (or otherwise).

6.—Lights.—I saw the lights and fires extinguished at the proper hour.

7.—Dinners.—I saw the guards' dinners marched off at the proper hour.

8.—Cook Houses.—I visited the cook houses previous to the time of the meal at dinner time and found all regular.

Signature.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 11 March 2016

Sending Men to Death by Overloading
Topic: Soldiers' Load

U.S. Said Sending Men to Death by Overloading Them in Battle

The Montreal Gazette, 5 March 1951

Washington, March 4.—(AP)—Out of the United States Army's studies of the Second World War has come a long overdue disclosure that some military commanders sent soldiers to certain death by piling too much weight on their backs.

"In fact," the report says, "we have always done better by a mule than a man."

And there is a warning that overloading of combat troops has cut down the striking power of the American Army in the firing line—while the Russians are stripping weight off their fighting men to give them more mobility in battle.

This report, gleaned from the battlefields of the last war, says:

1.     Men were killed unnecessarily because staff officers failed to realize that overloading a soldier cuts down his chances for survival.

2.     Too much weight probably caused more deaths on bloody "Omaha Beach" in Normandy than enemy fire.

3.     Men have been called before a firing squad for cowardice when perhaps they were guilty of nothing more than extreme fatigue which could have been cured by a few salt tablets.

4.     The Army has become so engrossed with machines of war that it has neglected the human machine—the weary old infantryman who carries the real burden of combat.

5.     The Army must strip down its supply services—because oversupply can bog down an Army as surely as shortages of gasoline and ammunition.

This expert study of the American Army in action comes from Col. S.L.A. Marshall, a First World War veteran who did battlefield research in the last war and then became a theatre historian on the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In peacetime, Marshall is an editorial writer for the Detroit News. But he is now in Korea making other battlefield studies for the Army.

Marshall has condensed part of his studies in a booklet "The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a nation" published by the Combat Forces press of Washington.

Marshall's main argument is that the army may move swiftly on wheels—but true mobility in battle is the key to winning, and this can be achieved only by having strong troops who can move swiftly.

The accepted theory for years has been that 65 pounds on a soldier's back is a fair weight for marches and for combat. That's about what the Roman legionaries carried 2,000 years ago.

But Marshall contends from first-hand study that fear and fatigue make it impossible for most soldiers to carry such weights into a fight.

He thinks the weight limit should be about 40 pounds.

elipsis graphic

Canadian Load Lighter

Ottawa, March 4.—CP—An army official said today Canadian infantrymen are "stripped to the essentials" in combat.

"I believe we don't load our men as heavy as the Americans," he said.

The spokesman said Canadians carry ":nothing like 65 pounds_—a weight considered for years a "fair" soldier's carry. The Army didn't enforce any standard load.

A commanding officer decided what a Canadian soldier wore and it depended on the type of operation. There would be heavier gear in an approach to a battle area than in an attack.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 10 March 2016

Punishable by Death (1879)
Topic: Discipline

Punishable by Death (1879)

The Army Discipline and Regulation Bill

The Glasgow Herald, 10 July 1879

The following memorandum has been issued, explanatory of the Schedule related to Corporal Punishment, and containing a list of offences punishable under the bill with death:—

A person liable to military law, when on active service, is punishable with death is he commits any of the following offences:—

1.     Shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, place, post, or guard, or uses any means to compel or induce any governor, commanding officer, or other person shamefully to abandon or deliver up any garrison, place, post, or guard, which it was the duty of such governor, officer, or person to defend.

2.     Shamefully casts away his arms, ammunition, or tools in the presence of the enemy.

3.     Treacherously holds correspondence with or gives intelligence to the enemy, or treacherously or through cowardice sends a flag of truce to the enemy.

4.     Assists the enemy with arms, ammunition, or supplies, or knowingly harbours or protects as enemy not being a prisoner.

5.     Having been made a prisoner of war, voluntarily serves with or voluntarily aids the enemy.

6.     Knowingly does, when on active service, any act calculated to imperil the success of Her Majesty's forces or any part thereof.

7.     Misbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy.

8.     Leaves his commanding officer to go in search of plunder.

9.     Without orders from his superior officer leaves his guard, picquet, patrol, or post.

10.     Forces a safeguard.

11.     Forces or strikes a sentry.

12.     Impedes the provost marshal, or any officer legally exercising authority under of on behalf of the provost marshal; or, when called on, refuses to assist in the execution of his duty the provost marshal or any such officer.

13.     Does violence to any person bringing provisions or supplies to the forces; or commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of or resident in the country in which he is serving.

14.     Breaks into any house or other place in search of plunder.

15.     By discharging firearms, drawing swords, beating drums, making signals, using words, or by any means whatever intentionally occasions false alarms in actions, on the march, in the field, or elsewhere.

16.     Treacherously makes known the parole or watchword to any person not entitled to receive it; or, without good and sufficient cause, gives a parole or watchword different from what he received.

17.     Irregularly detains or appropriates to his own corps or detachment any provisions or supplies proceeding to the forces, contrary to any orders issued in that respect.

18.     Being a sentinel, commits any of the following offences (that is to say):—(a.) Sleeps or is drunk at his post; or (b.) leaves his post before he is regularly relieved.

19.     Causes or conspires with any other persons to cause any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy.

20.     Endeavours to seduce any person in Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, from allegiance to Her Majesty, or to persuade any person in Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, to join in any mutiny or sedition.

21.     Joins in, or being present does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy,

22.     Coming to the knowledge of any actual or intended mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, does not without delay inform his commanding officer of the same.

23.     Strikes or uses or offers any violence to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office.

24.     Disobeys any lawful command given by his superior officer in the execution of his office.

25.     Deserts or attempts to desert Her Majesty's service.

26.     Persuades, endeavours to persuade, procures or attempts to procure, any person subject to military law to desert from Her Majesty's service.

Note.—Treason, murder, and other offences (if any) punishable by the law of England with death, if committed by persons subject to military law, can, under the circumstances specified in the bill, be tried by court-martial and be punished by death.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Iron Ration (1933)
Topic: Army Rations

Iron Ration Up to Date

The Glasgow Herald, 26 July 1933

I understand that the new type of iron ration which is the subject of investigation by the Army medical authorities as an alternative to bully-beef and biscuits is to be issued experimentally to troops during the present training season in order to test it under field service conditions. One of the main objects of the proposed change has already been explained as the desire to lighten the soldier's load, and in the ration to be tried this has been achieved to the extent of over 1 ½ pounds. Made up into a solid slab and resembling a block of chocolate, the substitute for bully and biscuits is a scientifically prepared product of which the biggest proportion, 29 per cent., is pea flour. Cocoa butter and sugar each represent 25 per cent., and cocoa powder and sugar each 10 per cent., while the remaining one percent. is oil of lemon.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Militia Report (1876)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Militia Report (1876)

The Times, Ottawa, Ont., 19 February 1876

The report of the state of the Dominion Militia, presented by Major-General Selby Smyth to the Minister of Militia and Defence, is a most intresting one. The Major-General states that he has inspected most thoroughly the Dominion forces from the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast. He alludes also to the result of his conferences with the general officers of the United States army, commanding in Montana, Washington and Oregon Territories, to whom he was accredited by the American Government—results which have already been submitted to the Department, and he states that he met with a most friendly reception. His official tour extended in point of time from the 24th May to the 15th November, and embraced a distance traveled in going and returning of about 11,000 miles, of which over 2,000 miles were performed on horseback, and 600 miles with pack animals. In speaking of the force in Prince Edward Island the General states that he found the militia had not been reconstituted since Confederation, and that considerable misconception existed upon the subject. In the year 1851, it had been disbanded, but at the time of the Fenian commotion a few independent companies were organized in consequence of a despatch from the Secretary of State—these were kept together until July, 1873. At the time of his visit there appeared to be considerable apathy in all matters connected with the militia of the Island. The force within the province consists of 700 men, in four regimental districts, or divisions, with four batteries of artillery and twelve infantry companies. Some detailed statements are also given to the clothing and arming of the Island militia, which has been placed on a more satisfactory basis than heretofore.

With respect to Manitoba, the report says that the garrison now consists of only 100 men, of whom 25 are artillery, with two 9-pounder rifled guns, and two 7-pounder mountain howitzers; two of the latter description have also been supplied to the Winnipeg battery of militia artillery. The militia of Manitoba is composed of two companies of infantry and the battery of artillery. The latter is in fair condition, while the infantry has but little solidity. The Deputy Adjutant General was about to reconstitute the infantry companies, which he hoped to render more serviceable. Recently an application has been made for more military protection at Portage Laprarie, about 100 miles west of Winnipeg, based upon a minute of the Provincial Council relative to a murder of a Sioux Indian by one of his own tribe. In the opinion of Gen. Smyth, if an armed force is considered necessary, it should be established at Totogon, in preference to Portage Laprarie, as the former commands a larger sweep of country from White Mud River to the open plateau near Poplar Point, both places being respectively 90 and 42 miles from Fort Garry.

The report then proceeds to set forth the state of the militia force in British Columbia and Vancouver's Island, and the report shows the most satisfactory state of affairs. The efficiency of the Dominion army is spoken of in the highest and most complimentary terms and some good wholesome advice is given to young officers, commissioned and non-commissioned. It is urged upon them to pay the strictest attention to their drill, and by their conduct to set an example to those in the ranks. The new clothing issued is condemned in flat terms as a failure; to use the words of the report:—

"The shape of the frock is extremely unpopular, and the serge material very bad. A shower of rain reduces the scarlet to a neutral tint approaching black. Money is always badly laid out in purchasing cheap materials, popular feeling must be respected in a purely volunteer force, encouragement must be given to maintain that feeling. One and all, I believe, condemn the serge frock, and for my own part, I think it looks unbecoming and proves unserviceable. All desire the cloth tunic, it is the uniform of the British Army which the Militia with becoming pride desire to emulate. I recommend the universal resumption of that dress. The forage cap invented here is equally unserviceable. Anything with paste board in its composition is totally useless for a soldier's wear. The men complained that the former forage cap afforded no shade from the sun nor shelter from rain. Militiamen are accustomed the year round in their ordinary work to wear broad brimmed hats, and so they dislike the round forage cap; but I believe the Kilmarnock with a back and front peak, as formerly worn by some regiments of the line in India, would answer the purpose, affording both shade and shelter, and causing a circulation of air round the back of the neck. A headdress combining grace and utility is a matter of taste still far from decided on. The Glengarry cap is smart, but would be worn probably for general use and the shako is not required for the short summer drills."

The following statistic table will show the numbers trained in each Province during the past season:—

  • Quebec, 8,168;
  • Ontario, 14,836;
  • Nova Scotia, 3,033;
  • New Brunswick, 2,124;
  • Manitoba, no return;
  • British Columbia, 200;
  • Prince Edward Island, 484.

In regard to military stores, it is stated that there is now in reserve throughout the Dominion:—

  • Gunpowder, 188,576 lbs;
  • Small arms ammunition, 6,902,576 rounds;
  • Snider rifles, long and short, 19,820;
  • Camp equipment, for about 50,000 men.

The Mounted Police is spoken of in the highest terms of praise and its maintenance is urged in the most vigorous terms. It has already done good service, and the men appear, as a rule, to be thoroughly satisfied with their lot. Some changes in the mode of arming are recommended, such as the substitution of the improved Adams revolver for the Smith & Wesson. The report denies that the force is, as has been stated, "a complete failure," and cites several instances where it has been of essential use, especially in the protection of trading posts and the fur hunters. The force is efficient in every respect, and its presence has been the means of promoting a feeling of security throughout the country. The remainder of the report is composed of reports from the commandants of the various military districts, and they are very interesting reading.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 7 March 2016

Abolished Sword as a Cavalry Weapon
Topic: Cold Steel

Abolished Sword as a Cavalry Weapon

The Rifle is to Take its Place

Boston Evening Transcript; 17 September 1902
(Special to the Transcript)

Montreal, Sept, 18—A militia order just issued by the new commander-in-chief of the Canadian Militia, Lord Dundonald, practically abolished the sword as a cavalry weapon. He has decided that, for the future, mounted troops, whatever they may be called, shall consider the rifle as their principle weapon. They may use swords on parade, but not on the field. Drill of the simplest kind is to be provided in order that men may get into rendezvous formations, moving from place to place and getting rapidly into position for dismounted work. Rapidity in mounting and dismounting, outpost and reconnaissance work, attack and defence of a position, defence of a bridge, arrangements for ambush, pioneering, map reading, how to find way by compass and stars are recommended as proper exercises to fit mounted troops for the best work. The general expresses his desire, in making this change, to impress upon mounted officers and men that he is not depriving them of opportunities to distinguish themselves, but is rather adding to those chances. He intimates that it may be possible later to arm men with a light sword bayonet, but is satisfies that the greatest efficiency lies in the use of the rifle. He wishes the mounted man to learn from the infantryman and the engineer all that is useful to him, while retaining the dash and "go" which should always distinguish the cavalryman.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 6 March 2016

A Problem in Army Discipline
Topic: Humour

A Problem in Army Discipline

Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, 15 September 1902
By F.A. Mitchel

"Corporal," said the colonel, "I see Private Stokes strutting around the post as if he were the prime favourite of the secretary of war. It's not ten minutes since he was tied up by the thumbs. What does it mean?"

"Private Clarkson cut him down, sir."

"Cut him down!" exclaimed the colonel, aghast at such defiance of military authority. "Why, this is mutiny."

The corporal stood straight as a ramrod and said nothing.

"Arrest Stokes and tie him up again. Send Clarkson under guard to me."

In a few minutes private Clarkson came marching between two soldiers to the colonel's quarters. He was a rosy cheeked boy of eighteen, with flaxen hair, cut close, and blue eyes, in which were a defiant look."

"Are you aware, my man," asked the colonel, "that you have committed an act of mutiny?"

"Yes, colonel."

"And that mutiny is an offence punishable with death?"

No answer.

"Corporal, what was Private Stokes tied up for?"

"Fightin', sir."

"Whom did he fight?"

"Private Clarkson."

"What—this boy?"

"Yes, sir."

"He deserves to be tied up. What did you cut him down for, Private Clarkson?"

"He wasn't fightin' me, I was fightin' him. I hit him on the head with a scabbard."

"How long have you been in the service?"

"I enlisted last week."

"H'm—a recruit. You haven't had much time to learn discipline, but if you have no more idea of it than to interfere with a man under punishment you're not likely to make much of a soldier. Considering you're green, I'll let you off this time, but I warn you that if ever you mutiny again while under my command I'll have you shot."

The corporal marched the two guards away, and Private Clarkson turned and walked across the parade ground. The colonel watched him and saw him draw his sleeve across his eyes.

"Not much more than a kid," muttered the stern commander. "These innocent boys, ignorant of army discipline, are harder to break in than jailbirds. They don't know what they are doing."

Half an hour later as the colonel was leaving his headquarters he met the corporal of the guard at the door.

"Well, what is it, corporal?" he asked uneasily.

"Private Stokes has been cut down again, sir."

"What?"

"Cut down again."

"Who did it this time?"

"Private Clarkson, sir."

The colonel was nonplussed. How to handle such a case seemed to him an insoluble problem. He thought the matter over while the corporal was standing like a graven image and determined to give this beardless boy who was defying him a scare that would teach him the nature of army discipline.

"Corporal," said the colonel, "tell the sergeant of the guard to bring private Clarkson here with eight men."

When Clarkson and the men arrived, the colonel ordered the sergeant to have the muskets loaded with blank cartridges without Clarkson's knowledge. This was done, the men were drawn up in line, and the colonel himself took Clarkson, placing him thirty paces from and in front of the firing party.

"Now, my man," said the officer, "I'm going to show you what it means to defy my authority. I'm going to have you shot."

Private Clarkson turned pale, but said nothing. The colonel spent some time adjusting him before the line of soldiers in order to give him time to collapse. Clarkson stood silent, with a sullen pout on his lips.

"Ready!" said the colonel. ("By Jove, he's the biggest fool I ever knew. I believe I'll have to pretend to shoot him.) "Aim!"

Clarkson not only failed to wilt, but cast a scornful look at the colonel. This was more than the commander had bargained for.

"Are you aware," he said to the prisoner, "that when I give the next order you will be a dead man?"

There was a twitching of the muscles of the private's face, but he said nothing.

"If I let you off once more, do you think you will have sense enough not to cut Private Stokes down again?"

"No!"

The colonel stood grim for a moment, then gave the order:

"Fire!"

Eight muskets exploded. Clarkson fell.

The colonel, frightened lest some of the pieces had been loaded by mistake or the prisoner had died of shock, rushed to him, raised him, fanned him with his hat and tore open his coat at the neck that he might breathe more freely.

"Great heaven! It's a woman!"

Clarkson opened her eyes, saw the colonel bending over her in terror and—laughed.

"Who are you?" exclaimed the colonel.

"Private Stokes' wife."

the colonel gave a low whistle, then went to his quarters and countermanded an order excluding soldiers' wives from the post. It was plain to him that he could not keep them out.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 6 March 2016 12:03 AM EST
Saturday, 5 March 2016

10 Diseases of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Richard Holmes'
'10 Diseases of Leadership'

A Sandhurst Guide, Pilot version, Easter 2012

1.     Lack of moral courage. In the military physical courage is often supported by the sense of team and shared commitment to a specific task. Moral courage is often a far lonelier position and so that much harder to undertake in practice.

2.     Failure to recognize that opposition can be loyal. Encourage constructive dissent rather than have destructive consent.

3.     Consent and evade. Do not consent to a plan that you do not agree with then evade its implications by doing something different without telling your commander.

4.     There is a need to know and you don't need to know. Some people use information and access to it to reinforce their leadership position.

5.     Don't bother me with the facts I've already made up my mind. There is always a point where the detail of a plan is confirmed, after which there is a tendency to ignore any new information that might suggest a change to that plan is required. The British as a people have a greater tendency than most to succumb to this.

6.     The quest for the 100% solution. A good plan in time is better than a great plan too late.

7.     Equating the quality of the advice with the rank of the person providing it. Wisdom and insight are not linked inextricably to rank and experience.

8.     I'm too busy to win. Failure to exploit opportunities that arise by being focused on routine work.

9.     I can do your job too. Avoid the temptation to slip back into your old comfort zones. It will smother subordinates.

10.     Big man, cold shadow. Consider the effect of your presence and involvement in a task. Will it help or hinder?

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2016 3:25 PM EST
Friday, 4 March 2016

A Duel in India (1828)
Topic: Officers

A Duel in India (1828)

The Public Ledger and Newfoundland General Advertiser, 29 July, 1828 (New Monthly Magazine.)

The ___ Regiment of Foot, was quartered at Vellore, when the tragical occurrence took place which deprived poor captain Bull of his existence. He was yet only in his early manhood, beloved by all who knew him, and much respected in the hussar regiment, which he quitted in exchange for a company in the regiment in India, which he had joined only a few months. At Vellore, he found a set of officers chiefly Irish, and by no means favourable specimens of that country, either in its virtues or its failings. He felt therefore, as was natural, little or no inclination to associate with them farther than military duty required. The mess of the regiment was convivial and expensive; and Capt. Bull having been affianced to a young lady who was coming to India, had the strongest and most laudable motives for living economically. He therefore intimated, but in terms of politeness his disinclination to join the mess, stating his expectations of being shortly married, and the consequent expense which he was so soon to incur. But the majority of the mess, the Irish part of it in particular, with the confusion of head incident to those who are resolved to quarrel, interpreted his refusal as a personal affront. It was then unanimously agreed amongst nine officers present, that they should draw lots which of them was to call Captain Bull out. The lot fell to Lieut. Sandays, who in the name of himself and his brother officers, sent the challenge which Bull had too much spirit to decline, though determined, as he told his second, not to fire, having no personal injury to redress. They went out, Sandays fired, and Captain Bull fell. The systematic cowardice of the plot, and the untimely fate of so excellent a young man, strongly agitated the feelings of all. Sandays, and Yeaman, his second, were brought down to the presidency, and tried at the ensuing sessions for wilfull murder. The grass-cutters and the horse-keepers, who had observed them going out together, and returning, and a water-bearer, who had actually seen the duel, were somewhat at a loss to identify Sandays, and Yeaman; and the prisoners had moreover the advantage of a jury of Madras shop-keepers, who serving the different regiments with stores, had on former occasions acquitted officers under similar charges; and, aggravated sd the present case was, probably felt a like indisposition to convict. They were acquitted, therefore, but against the strong and pointed direction of the judge, Sir henry Gwillin, who told the jury that it would be trifling with hos oath not to tell them that is was a case of foul and deliberate murder. The deliberated or pretended to deliberate, for half an hour; and during this time, the judge who could not imagine that any other verdict could be brought in than that of "Guilty" had already laid his black cap upon his note book, prepared to pass the sentence of the law upon them, and which as he told the prisoners, it was his intention to have carried into effect. "You have had," said he, addressing them with great solemnity, "a narrow escape and too merciful a jury, If they ca, let them reconcile their verdict to God and the consciences. For my part, I assure you, had the verdict been what the facts of the case so fully warranted, that in 24 hours you should have been cold and unconscious corpses—as cold and unconscious as that of the poor young man whom, by a wicked conspiracy and a wicked deed you drove out of existence. Begone! Repent of your sins. You are men of blood, and that blood cried up to heaven against you." Sandays and Yeamen were afterward tried by a court martial, found guilty of the conspiracy against the life of Capt. Bull, and broke. The sentence was confirmed by the King, with an additional clause, declaring them "incapable for ever of again serving his Majesty."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 3 March 2016

Burden Put on Doughboy
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Burden Put on Doughboy

Army Experts Seeking a Method by Which Soldier's Load May Be Enlightened

The Woodville Republican, Woodville, Mississippi, 3 March 1923

Washington.—The heaviest laden pack animal of the army is the doughboy himself. Inch for inch for size or pound for pound for weight, the buck private of infantry carries on his back into battle double the burden handled by horses or mules or motor truck.

He is expected to jog cheerfully along through the ooze beside the road, leaving the good going to the gas and animal transport.

Army experts are racking their brains for ways to cut down the doughboy's load. Exhaustive study has been given to war experience for that purpose. Through the American legion and similar organizations efforts have been made to get the men who carried the infantry packs in France to suggest changes. As yet, however, it was said at the War Department, to get only a few ounces of weight off the backs of the trudging infantry.

Experts figure that the average load for a foot soldier should not exceed 61 pounds. Yet under the present organization tables, "No. 3 rear rank" (who is the automatic rifleman in the infantry), must stagger along under about 133 pounds when fully equipped. All of the machine gun personnel is burdened almost as heavily as the infantry, carrying 115 to 125 pounds per man.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Abuse of Bayonets
Topic: Cold Steel

The Abuse of Bayonets

The Pittsburgh Press, 25 June 1911

A veteran soldier was talking about bayonets.

"A lot of unjust obloquy was heaped on our bayonet makers during the Civil War," he said, "The makers were blamed for defects that were really the fault of the soldiers."

"I saw some interesting bayonet tests the other day that proved this. First, in these tests, a lot of swords and bayonets were put through the severest ordeals proper to swords and bayonets, and they came out in superb condition. Then they were put through the improper ordeals that too many of us subjected them to during the war.

"A piece of bread was toasted on a fine bayonet, and then the hot steel was thrust suddenly into cold water, as often happened in the field on the sudden appearance of an officer. The result was that the magnificent metal became as brittle as glass. Dropped on the floor, it broke into five pieces.

"Three bayonets were arranged in tripod shape and a steak was cooked under them. These bayonets cooled slowly, and, when cold, they were soft as lead.

"And as for these things, in the Civil War, many a bayonet maker's name was disgraced."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Recruiting and Retention, 1882
Topic: Canadian Militia

Another Matter of Special Importance

(Recruiting and Retention, 1882)

"Military Matters," The Toronto Daily Mail, 21 January 1882

Another matter of special importance in the organization of the volunteer militia is the system by which men are enrolled. There is something radically wrong when we find from year to year that such a large proportion of the men are recruits. It is bit a very small proportion of the number of those that are enrolled that serve out their three years. A check should immediately be put on enlisting that unsettled class in the community that are here to-day and gone to-morrow. They only join with the object of getting a few days' pay and rations that are to be had at the period of the annual drills, having no love for the service at heart. They lower the tone of the rank and file, and hinder that esprit de corps which cannot be too strongly upheld. They are untidy and careless about their persons, and will do a uniform more damage in one season than a good man would do to it in three years. No decent man will wear a uniform after one of them. The expenditure of money and instruction upon them is a simple waste. Officers are naturally very eager to bring up the ranks to their proper strength at the period of annual drill, but the practice of filling them with these make-shifts should be discouraged, and none but men likely to serve out their full term should ever be enrolled. The men who do credit to the service are not those who join for considerations of pay, and en effectual means of shutting out those who would enroll from mercenary motives alone would be to make the pay progressive. Recruits should only receive 25 cents per diem, second-year men 50 cents per diem, and third-year men and over 75 cents per diem. This plan, if adopted, would guard against the enlistment of any but proper men. It would give to a three-year man the same total pay as if he had the 50 cents per diem each separate year, and after the three years it would be a reward to long service men, and an inducement to continue on in the service. A man after three years of instruction ought to be worth more than a recruit.

The form of acquittance roll should be altered so that statistics might be had showing the average length of service of our volunteer militiamen, and I think the result would be somewhat startling. One of the first essentials of a military force is thorough reliance of your personnel, and in all organizations this should be steadfastly kept in view.

Yours, &c.,
Steady.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 29 February 2016

Of Subsisting Troops (Saxe)
Topic: Army Rations

Of Subsisting Troops

Reveries, or Memoirs, Concerning the Art of War, by Maurice Count de Saxe, Marshal-General of the Armies of France (Translated from the French, MDCCLIX)

The practice of troops messing together contributes much to good order, oeconomy, and health debauchery and gaming are thereby prevented, and the soldier is, at the same time, very well maintained. This institution, however, is not without its inconveniences; because a man harasses himself after a march in search of wood, water, &c.; is tempted to maraud; is perpetually dirty, and ill dressed; spoils his clothes by the carriage from one camp to another of all the necessary utensils for his mess; and likewise impairs his health by the extraordinary fatigues which unavoidably attend it. Yet these inconveniences are not without a remedy; for the troops being, according to my disposition, divided into centuries, a sutler, provided with four carts drawn each by two oxen, should be appointed to every one, and furnished with a pot large enough to hold a sufficient quantity of soup for the whole century, of which every man should receive his proportion in a wooden porringer, together with some boiled meat at noon, and roasted in the evening; and officers should attend, to see that they be not imposed upon, or have cause to complain. The profit allowed to be made by these sutlers, should arise from the sale of liquors, cheese, tobacco, and the skins of the cattle which they kill; and which they are also to maintain with the herbage and provisions that will be always found in the neighbourhood of the army.

To carry this into execution, may at first appear a matter of some difficulty; but very little application will be necessary to render it both practicable, and of general use. Soldiers, when they were to go on parties, might carry as much roasted meat as would serve them for one or two days, without any manner of incumbrance. The quantity of wood, water, and kettles, which is now required to make soup for an hundred men, is more than would be sufficient for a thousand in the way I propose and the soup, at the fame time, be composed of much better ingredients: besides, the soldiers would thus avoid all unwholesome things which produce disorders, such as hog's flesh, unripe fruit, &c.; and the officers would only have occasion to attend their meals, at which one at least should be always present, to take care that they had justice done them. On forced marches, or at such times when the baggage could not be brought up, the cattle upon the spot should be distributed amongst the troops, and wooden spits made to roast their flesh; which is an expedient accompanied with no embarrassment whatsoever, and lasts only for a few days. But let us compare our method with this, and we shall soon find which is the most preferable. It is in use amongst the Turks, who are by that means at all times well nourished, insomuch that their bodies, after an engagement, are very distinguishable from those of the Germans, which are pale and meagre. There is also another advantage resulting from it in certain cases; that of managing the soldier's purse, by furnishing him with his pay, and at the fame time selling him his provisions; for instance, when contributions are to be raised in countries abounding in cattle, like Poland and Germany, that the inhabitants may be able to furnish what is required, one half must be taken in provisions, the other in money, and the former fold to the troops. Thus the soldier's pay makes a perpetual circulation, and. there will likewise remain an overplus of both money and provisions. It is moreover of great service in the consumption of such magazines as you have been obliged to make; for by fending your troops to subsist upon them, the loss to the state will be much diminished, and no umbrage, at the same time, given to the men.

Bread should never be given to soldiers in the field, but they should be accustomed to biscuit; because it is a composition that will keep without spoiling five years or more in the magazines. It is very wholesome, and a soldier can carry a sufficient quantity of it for even or eight days without any inconvenience. We need only apply to such officers as have served amongst the Venetians, to be informed of the general use, as well as convenience of it. The Muscovite kind, called soukari, is the best, because it does not crumble : it is made in a square form, of the size of a small filbert; and, as it takes up but little room, will not require such numbers of waggons to convey it from place to place as are necessary for bread. The purveyors indeed very industriously propagate the opinion, that bread is better for a soldier: but that is altogether false, and proceeds only from a selfish regard to their own interest; for they do not more than half-bake it, and blend all forts of unwholesome ingredients; which, with the quantity of water contained in it, renders the weight and size double. Add to this, their train of bakers, servants, waggons, and horses, upon all which they make a large profit : they are also a great incumbrance to an army ; must be always furnished with quarters, mills, and detachments to guard them. In short, it is inconceivable how much a general is perplexed with the frauds they commit, the embarrassments they create, the diseases they occasion by the badness of their bread, and the extraordinary trouble they give to the troops. The erecting of ovens is a circumstance which, in general, discovers so much of your intentions to the enemy, that it is needless to fay any more about it. If I undertook to prove every thing which I advance by fact, I should not be able to dismiss this subject so soon; but, upon the whole, I am convinced, that a great many misfortunes have proceeded only from this evil, which have been falsely ascribed to other causes.

It would be proper sometimes to with-hold even biscuit from the men, and give them corn in its stead, which, after having first bruised, and made into paste, they must learn to bake upon iron plates. Marshal Turenne, in his memoirs, makes some mention of this custom ; and I have heard it observed by other great commanders, that they sometimes refused their troops bread, even when they had abundance of it, in order to inure and reconcile them to the want of it. I have made campaigns of eighteen months length with troops that were, during the whole time, without it, and yet never discovered the least dissatisfaction. I have also made several others with such as were accustomed to it, and who were so far from being able to submit to the want of it, that the intermission of it for only a day was attended with the greatest inconveniences; a circumstance that rendered every enterprise in which expedition was required, impracticable.

In regard to flesh-meat, there is hardly a possibility of being reduced to a want of it; for cattle can keep up with an army very well, and cost nothing in conveyance; and if we grant that an ox weighs 500 pounds, and that every man is to be allowed but half a pound, one ox per day will maintain a thousand men, and fifty will consequently be sufficient for 50,000: suppose then that a campaign lasts 200 days, the number of oxen required will amount to no more than 10,000, which will follow the army, and find pasture sufficient to support them in all places. They should be assembled in different herds, or repositories, and successively advanced as occasion may require.

I cannot omit taking notice here of a custom established amongst the Romans, by means of which they prevented the diseases and mortality that armies are subject to from the change of climates; and to which also a part of that amazing success which attended them ought to be attributed. The German armies lost above a third upon their arrival in Italy and Hungary. In the year 1718, we entered the camp of Belgrade with 55,000 men: it stands upon an eminence; the air is wholesome; the water good, and we had plenty of all necessaries: nevertheless, on the day of battle, which was the 18th of August, we could muster only 22,000 under arms; the rest being either dead, or incapable of acting. I could produce many instances of this kind, which have happened amongst other nations, and can be only imputed to the change of climate. The use of vinegar was the grand secret by which the Romans preserved their armies; for as soon as that was wanting amongst them, they became as much subject to diseases as we are at present. This is a fact that few perhaps have attended to, but which is notwithstanding of very great importance to all commanders, who have a regard for their troops, and any ambition to conquer their enemies. In regard to the manner of using it, the Romans distributed it by order amongst the men, every one receiving a sufficient quantity to serve him for several days, and pouring a few drops of it into the water which he drank. To trace the cause of so salutary an effect, is what I leave to the adepts in physic, contenting myself with having related a simple fact, the reality of which is unquestionable.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 28 February 2016

Cronje's Surrender
Topic: Paardeberg

Cronje's Surrender

Boer Commando Reduced to Desperate Straits Before They Would Give In
Internal Dissensions and Unsanitary Conditions Compel Cronje to Stop Fighting

The Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston, Maine, 5 April 1900
[Correspondent of the Associated Press.]

London, March 28.—By means of the latest mails from Cape Town, the papers have been able to tell the story of the defeat of the "Lion of South Africa."

The Times correspondent at Paardeberg is able to give some idea of what transpired in the Boer camp, prior to surrender.

"The Red House," he writes, "a kind of Dak bungalow which is found near every drift in South Africa, was used as Cronje's headquarters. On Tuesday, the 20th, was marked by the severest bombardment of the entire investment, and a Boer doctor described the position as awful. The losses inflicted upon the horses were the turning point of the siege. Decomposition set in and the absolute need of clean air caused a serious rebellion in the camp, most of the 4,000 men demanding the surrender should be made at once.

"From that moment the Boers scarcely obeyed orders. A sharp division between the Transvaalers and the Orange Free State Boers ensued, and the only bond of sympathy that united them, besides their common adversity was a long-hidden hatred of the Germans in their ranks. Until sunrise, on the 27th, the state of affairs among the Boers was pitiful. Apart from the ever increasing hunger, despair of relief and unhealthiness of the position, mutual recriminations destroyed the last consolation of adversity, good fellowship, and Cronje sat aloof, silent and unapproachable.

"The events of the early morning of the 27th, can best be told from outside.

"Brigadier General MacDonald sent from his bed a note to Lord Roberts, reminding him that Tuesday was the anniversary of that disaster, which, we all remembered, he has by example, order and threat himself, done his best to avert, even while the panic had been at its heights; Sir Henry Colville submitted a suggested attack backed by the same unanswerable plea.

"For a moment Lord Roberts demurred to the plans; it seemed likely to cost too heavily, but the insistence of Canada broke down his reluctance and the men of the oldest colony were sent out in the small hours of Tuesday morning to redeem the blot on the name of the mother country.

"From the existing trench, some 700 yards long, on the northern bank held jointly by the Gordons and the Canadians, the latter were ordered to advance in two lines—each, of course, in extended orders—30 yards apart, the first with bayonets fixed, the second reinforced by 50 Royal Engineers under Col. Kincaid and Capt. Boileau.

"In dead silence and covered by a darkness, only faintly illuminated by the merest rim of the dying moon, the three companies of Canadians moved on over the brush strewn ground. For ober 400 yards the noiseless advance continued, but when within 80 yards of the Boer trench the trampling of the scrub betrayed the moment.

"Instantly the outer trench burst into fire which was kept up almost without intermission from 5 o'clock till 10 minutes past the hour. The Canadians flinging themselves under, kept up an incessant fire on the trenches, guided only by the flashes of their enemy's rifles, and the Boers admit that they quickly reduced them to the necessity of lifting their rifles over their heads to the edge of the earthwork, and pulling their triggers at random.

"Beginning at this line, the engineers dug a trench from the inner edge of the bank to the crest, and then for fifty or sixty yards out through the scrub. The Canadian retired three yards to this protection and waited for dawn, confident in their new position, which had entered the protected angle of the Boer position and commanded alike the rifle pits of the banks and the trefoil-shaped embrasures on the north.

"Cronje saw that matters were desperate. Col. Otter and Col. Kincaid called a hasty consultation, which was disturbed by the sight of Sir henry Colville, General of the Ninth Division, quickly riding down within 500 yards of the northern Boer trench to bring the news that even while the last few shots were being fired a horseman was hurrying in with a white flag and Cronje's unconditional surrender, to take effect at sunrise."

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 28 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Canadians in South Africa
Topic: Paardeberg

The Canadians in South Africa

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

In an article on the Canadian Military forces, the Army and Navy Gazette says:—

"To record the prominent part taken by the contingent in the war would fill too ample a space here. The Canadians were moved up with Lord Methuen's forces from De Aar to Belmont, and were active in the events that followed. In the dark days that succeeded Magersfontein the Toronto Company, one hundred strong. Were employed in Col. Pilcher's brilliant attack upon the town of Douglas, and "At last!" was the cry which they had made when they were ordered to advance.

"In the pursuit of Cronje, the Canadians were embodied in Smith-Dorrien's brigade, which was probably the finest in the whole army. When the famous Boer leader was being invested, the pushed across the river and took up their position upon the north bank, where they distinguished themselves by the magnificent tenacity with which they persevered in the attack. When the final assault was made the Canadians had the post of honour, and advanced in the darkness before the rise of the moon. Silently they crept forward, and, when the first Boer rifle sounded, hurled themselves upon the ground. Hardly were they down when a furious burst of fire scattered the speeding bullets over them. How the regiment escaped destruction is extraordinary, but the Boers had had enough, and it was due to the Canadians and a handful of Sappers that the white flag fluttered on the morning of Majuba over the lines of Paardeberg.

"The Canadians were afterwards employed in Hutton's brigade in clearing the South-eastern district, and at Israel's Poort their gallant leader, Colonel Otter, was wounded. In the march on Pretoria they were with Ian Hamilton, and were concerned in many operations. Once again they greatly distinguished themselves by their desperate resistance in an exposed position at Honing Spruit. Later on, when the Boers made their attack upon Springs, near Johannesburg, the Canadians easily beat them off, and in Botha's last attempt upon the positions round Pretoria, on July 16, they held their post gallantly, but two of their brave young officers, Borden and Finch, the former the only son of the Canadian Minister of Militia, were killed.

"In another part of the field of operations, Canadian had done excellent service. For the relief of Mafeking Colonel Plumer was strengthened by four 12 pr. Guns of Canadian Artillery under Major Hudon, and these proved of great use in the relief operations. The Mounted Canadians and their artillery were actively employed during the guerrilla warfare and in operations about Belfast, and did excellent service under Col. Lessard. Strathcona's Horse, that bane body of troopers from the far North-West, whose services were presented to the nation by that patriotic nobleman whose name they bore, were a valuable reinforcement for General Buller in his final advance into the Transvaal. We can, however, give an imperfect picture of the fine service rendered by the Canadian contingent, and the patriotic attitude of the Canadian people throughout the war was one of the most pleasing features of that outburst of Imperial patriotism which it evoked."

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 27 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Friday, 26 February 2016

Canada's Militia Force (1894)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canada's Militia Force (1894)

Too Many Officers and Too few Men—Inspection Reports

Quebec Saturday Budget, 28 April 1894

The ordinary militia expenditure for this year was $,419,746; Northwest service, 1885; $7,224, and pensions $26,203. The revenue was $43,211, of which $23,926 was from the Royal Military College.

Major-General Herbert in his report gives the strength of the infantry as follows:—Officers, 2,564; N.C. Officers, 3,728; bandsmen and buglers, 2,563; privates, 19,856; total, 28,710. The total number of rifles which, under the most favorable circumstances, could be placed in line would thus be only 69 per cent of the total number of men. A comparison between Canadian and English militia shows that in Canada the number of officers to privates is 1 to 8, while in England it is only 1 to 32. The proportion of non-commissioned officers is 1 to 5, while in England it is 1 to 10.

Last year 367 officers and men obtained certificates at the various schools of military instruction. The camps last year trained 850 officers and 9,706 men with 1494 horses. The muster at local headquarters comprised 614 officers and 7,397 men.

The inspection reports of corps, which performed the annual drill for 1892 and 1893, have as usual remarks appended by the Major-General after most of them. A few are given here:—

7th Battalion, London—"It is a question whether this battalion is worth retaining. As a military organization it is of no value."

Of the Governor General's Foot Guards of Ottawa, Major General Herbert writes:—"This cannot be called a military organization, since there are practically no privates in the ranks. It will be necessary to alter the establishment."

Of the Prince of Wales Regiment, Montreal, Lieut.-Col. J.P. Butler, Commanding Officer, writes:—"This battalion appears unable to reorganize itself. In its present condition it is useless. It has had exceptional advantages."

Of the 58th Battalion, Bury, Quebec, Lieut.-Col. MacAuley, commanding, the Major-General writes:—"With every disadvantage of wet weather, wretched clothing and worthless arms, this battalion showed a good spirit, and worked hard, all ranks doing their best. The physique is good. I could not wish for better men, but there are no instructors. A large number of the men are Highlanders, speaking only the Gaelic."

His comment about the Sixth Regiment, Duke of Connaught's Canadian Hussars, of Montreal, Lieut.-Col. Barr commanding, is as follows:—"This regiment shows no improvement on last year. The weather being very bad and their condition bad, it was useless to retain them. I sent them home and called for the resignation of the commanding officer."

Of the 76th Battalion, St Martin, Lieut.-Col. Boudreau commanding, he says:—"Two men sent home as unfit for service. A large number of mere children in the ranks."

Of the Eighth Battalion, Royal Rifles, Quebec, Lieutenant-Colonel White, he says:—"The organization of this battalion is not military. The practice of having men like signallers who do not belong to any company is forbidden."

34th Battalion:—"The commanding officer is quite incompetent."

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 25 February 2016

Ice Cream Lumpy
Topic: Humour

Ice Cream Lumpy

Recruits Had to Smooth It—in Their Pockets

The Milwaukee Journal, 31 August 1955

Calgary, Alt.—(CP)—The regimental sergeant major of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry now is Capt. Owen Gardner. He was commissioned and named captain without going through the intermediate ranks of second and first lieutenant.

As regimental sergeant major, Warrant Officer Gardner was an army institution. He was the most respected—and most feared—man in his famous regiment. Stories of army life always followed him. One tells how he encountered two recruits blissfully licking ice cream cones, a sight he cannot stand.

"Get rid of them!" he bellowed. "Put them in your pockets."

The petrified pair obeyed meekly.

"Now smooth out the bumps," he ordered.

Gardner joined the Princess pats 32 years ago as a 16 year old drummer. He was promoted regimental sergeant major two days before the outbreak of World War II. He served through the war first in a training and then in a fighting capacity. He was in the first Canadian unit to go to Korea in 1950.

Soldiers who have felt the lash of Gardner's tongue claim his parade square holler was the best in the army. They say it could be heard in the center of Calgary, six miles away. If the wind was right.

elipsis graphic

The following is a brief biography of Owen Gardner, published in the September, 1955, edition of The Patrician, the regimental journal of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Instructions for Officers on First Joining
Topic: Officers

Instructions for Officers on First Joining a Regiment or Depot,—Memorandum

The Public Ledger and Newfoundland General Advertiser, 13 October 1854

1.     The General Commanding-in-Chief had, in the course of last year, been twice under the necessity of expressing to every regiment, at6 home and abroad, his apprehensions that a few inconsiderate officers might bring their regiments to disrepute unless, in their social conduct towards each other at their mess-table and in their barrack rooms, their behaviour should be regulated by a higher standard of what is due to the honourable position in which they stand as the holders of commissions in her Majesty's army.

2.     The first case which required Viscount Hardinge to assemble a court-martial on any officer was that of the 50th Regiment, on which occasion four subalterns were tried for forcibly seizing a young ensign, taking him to a pump, and there pumping upon him.

Two of these officers were sentenced to be dismisses the service, and two were reprimanded.

The memorandum containing Viscount Hardinge's comments was dates 5th of July, 1853, and was read to the officers assembled of every regiment in the service. It is given in the appendix.

3.     The second instance occurred in the 62nd Regiment in October, 1854.

A captain in command of two companies had repeatedly annoyed and disturbed the subaltern of his own company, and, accompanied by other officers, had been in the habit of bursting into his room, and taking his bed to pieces, &c.

The lieutenant had the proper spirit to make his report to the regiment.

The officer commanding the regiment did his duty firmly; he supported the subaltern, and reported his case to the Horse Guards.

4.     A third instance has now occurred. It is that in the 46th Regiment. The case originated in a disgraceful scene of deep gambling in a barrack room at Windsor, between Lieutenant Greer and Lieutenant Perry, terminating in a violent assault, in the course of which the most disgusting language was applies by Lieutenant Greer to Lieutenant Perry.

5.     At the close of the trial of Lieutenant Greer a letter was handed to the President of the court-martial by Lieutenant Perry, charging his commanding officer, Colonel Garrett, with grave acts of injustice, and stating that he (Lieutenant Perry) had sent a letter to his commanding officer, threatening to appeal to the general officer of the district, &c. Colonel Garrett denied these acts of injustice imputed to him, and he denied that any such letter had ever been sent to him by Lieut. Perry.

6.     The General Commanding-in-Chief took the same course in this case as he had done in that of the 50th and for the same reasons viz., his determination not to consent to a compromise in any of these cases, but to eradicate the unmanly system. The charges made by Lieutenant Perry against Colonel Garrett were specific. They amounted to a breach of Her Majesty's regulations, and apparently were in defiance of the admonitions and orders circulated in July and December, 1853.

The General Commanding-in-Chief resolved, therefore, that the truth or falsehood of these charges should be investigated by a court-martial on oath.

7.     The result of that court-martial, as well as the two preceding trials in the 46th Regiment, is given in the appendix, in order that every young officer may have on his first joining his regiment, by means of these examples, a clear understanding of his own position.

He will carefully read the Articles of War, given in the Appendix, together with a letter of the Judge-Advocate-General of 1814, which was published to the army, with the Mutiny Act and Articles of War of that year.

If the ensign is firm, and has the proper spirit of an officer and gentleman, he can have no difficulty, without any loss of honour or of temper, in resisting coarse practical jokes.

But, if he submits to them on the plea that they are the customary probation of an officer entering the British army, he will justly submit himself to the charge of having tamely submitted to insult; and it is his duty, on every account, and especially for the purpose of insuring his military efficiency, which depends upon character, that he should not suffer any liberties to be taken calculated to expose him to the derision of his brother officers and the men under his command.

8.     These coarse irregularities, termed practical jokes, and the use of disgusting language have increased, it is said, since the introduction of those Articles of War in 1854, which more strictly prohibited dueling in the army.

Public feeling had, in the preceding year, been greatly shocked by two officers, who were brothers-in-law, having fought a duel, in which one was killed.

The better and truer reason, however, for the increased strictness of the articles prohibiting duelling was, that the tone of society had improved, and that all men were united in reprobating so barbarous a mode of settling a dispute.

A few men of coarse and ungenerous tempers, since the severer Articles of War have been published, may have sought to take advantage of the apparent impunity which the prohibition afforded, and have taken greater liberties with their brother officers than they did when under the apprehension of immediate personal consequences.

Such practices cannot be permitted; they must be repressed, for they are degrading to the character of an officer. They render him unfit to command his men, for they cannot feel for him the respect which is the basis of all enduring authority. They render him unfit to associate with his brother officers, who must now hold him in contempt, or have themselves unk so low as not to shrink from contact with men of such coarse vulgarity.

It can never be endured that the manners of the officers shall fall below the standard recognized by gentlemen.

As far as duels were permitted at all, they were suffered as means supposed to be conducive to the maintaining in the barracks and mess room the language and behavior of gentlemen.

But it would be a fatal mistake to infer, that because duelling had been prohibited, any lower standard of manners will be tolerated in the British army. The language and behaviour which formerly held to justify a challenge must now, therefore, be visited by the removal of the offender from the society of which he has shown himself to be an unworthy member.

9.     Every assistance and support are to be given to the young officer in his endeavours to avoid rendering himself liable to these consequences.

In May last, before the spring inspections, the general officers ands staff officers inspecting regiments were ordered to report whether any practical jokes have been carried on at the mess table or elsewhere, or any steps taken to prevent them.

The reports are satisfactory; few regiments, however, have been inspected, owing to the greater part of the regiments having previously embarked for foreign service.

10.     The captain of the company to which the ensign, on joining, is appointed, will give him advice and support.

The major intrusted by the commanding officer with this branch of the interior discipline of a regiment will do the same, and be held responsible that he does it effectually; and if any case should arise requiring interference or a reprimand, the terms of the reprimand and the record of the letters must be forthcoming, to be shown to the general officer, and sent up to the Horse Guards. The necessity is apparent after the recent trials in the 46th Regiment, and all serious cases will at once be reported to the Adjutant-General, for the decision of the General Commanding-in-Chief.

11.     No case of a practical joke appears to have occurred in the 46th Regiment since October, 1853, with the exception of the case of Lieutenant Dunscombe at Weedon, in 1854.

12.     General Viscount Hardinge confidently asserts that the regimental system of the British army, now so long established, has proved its efficiency as bing admirably adapted for all the varied duties of war and peace.

He trusts that the irregularities and mischievous tendencies resulting from practical jokes can and will be corrected, and disappear for ever.

A firm but temperate exercise of authority on the part of commanding officers of regiments will effect the object desired; they will find, by a faithful discharge of their duty, that they will obtain the respect and support of their officers, and the esteem of their fellow subjects.

By command of General Viscount Hardinge, General Commander-in-Chief.

G.A. Wetherall, Deputy Adjutant-General (From the London Times.)

elipsis graphic

If there were any consonance between the professions and practice of the Horse Guards, Mr. Perry would at this moment have been acquitted, Mr. Greer have been summarily dismissed from the Queen's service, Lieut. Waldy by lying under an indictment for perjury, and Colonel Garrett be brought before a suitable tribunal to answer for his conduct since he has been in command of the 46th Regiment. Nothing can be more excellent than the spirit of Lord Hardinge's orders. Let young officers act as he recommends, and they will be creditable servants of the public. Let Lord Hardinge abide by them, and he will be a very good Commander-in-Chief. We subscribe most entirely to his theories, and can only wonder that the first man practically to set them at defiance has been the Commander-in-Chief himself. For the moment we will address ourselves rather to the general bearing of the case as effects the British army than to the individual instance of Mr. Perry. It is, however, right that Lord Hardinge should be told, and that his royal mistress should clearly understand, that the outrage perpetrated on this young officer in defiance of justice and common sense has had for effect upon the public mind to lower the character of every officer who holds the Queen's commission. There are not two opinions as to the scandalous method in which the second trial was conducted, nor as to the finding of the Court-martial in barefaced defiance of the evidence. As far even as the form of trial was concerned, it was obvious that even if Lord Hardinge had wished to test the validity of the charges against Colonel Garrett, a for of trial was selected which gave that person every advantage, and laid his accuser under every difficulty. It was only by an oppressive stretch of power that, under all the circumstances of the case, a second charge against Mr. Perry was fudged up at all. He had been made the subject of a scandalous outrage. The hand of every officer in his regiment was against him upon his first trial. He escaped by a miracle from their malevolence; and yet a second time he was sent to trial upon charges which he could, as the prosecution was managed, only make good by the testimony of those who regarded him with feelings of the bitterest hostility, and who were only required to 'forget' in order to secure his expulsion from the service. Still, despite of all this, and debarred as Mr. Perry was from the power of effectually cross-examining the miserable creatures who were brought in one after the other to say 'they had really forgotten,' he made out a defence which should, one would have imagined, have put it out of the power of fifteen reasonable men to assert their conviction that Mr. Perry maliciously and willfully lied when he asserted that Garrett had called him a fool, that he had threatened to complain to the General of the district, and that a man of the name of Nicholas in the regiment was a general bully. However, fifteen men were found for the work, and they did it. Lord Hardinge was also sufficiently courageous to sanction the finding, and to involve his royal mistress in the transaction, as approving of a decision which, as the Queen's name has been mixed up with it, we will not characterize by the term it deserves. Now, what is the set-off against all of this. A set of general orders, breathing a spirit of the purest morality and the most high-toned chivalry. The good folks at the Horse Guards manage their little affairs much in the style of Augustus Tomlinson, the sentimental villain of Bulwer's novel. They knock a man down with the butt end of a horse-pistol and, standing over the prostate body, declaim in swelling periods upon the advantages of humanity and justice. As we said before, we have no fault to find with the orders; the only pity is that Lord Hardinge should have set them at defiance and turned Mr. Perry out of the army for following his injunctions.

elipsis graphic

Sentence of Lieutenant Greer

This officer was tried upon a charge of having been guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the following instances:—

1.     For having, on or about the night of the 28th or morning of the 29th of June last, willfully struck and offered other personal violence to Lieutenant Edward James Perry, of the 46th Regiment.

2.     For having, at the same time and place, used provoking, insulting, and disgusting language to the said Lieutenant Perry, calling him a "swindler," "blackguard," and using other language of an offensive and insulting nature.

Acquitted, but ordered to sell out.

elipsis graphic

Lieutenant Waldy was ordered to be severely reprimanded, in consequence of his conduct in connexion with the letter written by him to Lieutenant Perry and produced in court after denying its contents.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2016 2:56 PM EST
Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cronje's last Stand
Topic: Paardeberg

Cronje's last Stand

Boer Chief Asked For an Armistice to Bury His Dead
An Unconditional Surrender
Demanded by Lord Kitchener, and Crionje Replied That he Would Fight to the Death—British Casualties Now Exceed Twelve Thousand.

The Daily Star, Fredericksburg, Va., 23 February 1900

London, Feb. 23.—General Cronje is seemingly making his last stand. He is dying hard, hemmed in by British infantry, and with shells from 60 guns falling into his camp.

On the third day of the fight the Boer chief asked for an armistice to bury his dead. "Fight to a finish or surrender unconditionally," was Lord Kitchener's reply. General Cronje immediately sent back word that his request for a truce had been misunderstood, and that his determination then, as before, was a fight to the death.

The battle went on. This was the situation of General Cronje Tuesday evening, as sketched in the scanty telegrams that have emerged from the semi-silence of South Africa.

The war office has issued the following from lord Roberts, dated Paardeberg, Feb. 22: "Methuen reports from Kimberley that supplies of food and forage are being pushed on as fast as possible. There will be enough coal to start the De Beers mine in ten days. By this means great misery will be alleviated. Hospital arrangements there are reported perfect. He hopes Prieska and the adjoining country will soon be settled.

Officially Lord Roberts wires that he has scattered the advance commando and of the reinforcement that were striving to reach General Cronje. It is regarded as singular that Lord Roberts, wiring Wednesday, should not mention the appeal for an armistice on the previous day, and also that the war office should withhold good news, if it has any.

Without trying to reconcile the scant materials at hand, it seems plain that General Cronje is in a band, or even a desperate situation, and that the British are pressing their advantage.

While the attack on general Cronje proceeds there is a race for concentration between the Boers and the British. The engagement with general Cronje's 5,000 to 8,000 entranched men is likely to become an incident in a battle between the masses. The separated factions of the Boer power are rapidly drawing together to attack Lord Roberts.

Will General Cronje be able to hold out until the Boer masses appear, or if he does will they then be able to succor him? The British are facing the Boers on ground where the arms, tactics and training of the British are expected to give them the advantage.

General Buller, according to a despatch from Chieveley, dated Wednesday, finds the Boers in positions north of the Tegula largely reinforced. This seems strange.

The Cape Town correspondent of The Daily Telegraph says: "General Cronje's request for an armistice was am ere dodge to gain time to make trenches. Lord Kitchener refused, but gave him half an hour to consider whether he would surrender unconditionally or fight to the finish. The Boers having said that their intention had been misunderstood, and that they would fight to the end, the battle was resumed."

The Daily News has the following dispatch from Modder River fated Wednesday afternoon:

The Boer forces under General Cronje are estimated at 8,000 men. At 12 o'clock he asked an armistice of 24 hours, which was refused. Later he sent a messenger to say that he would surrender. The British sent a reply telling him to come into camp. Cronje refused, saying it had been a misunderstanding, and that he would fight to the death.

The bombardment was them reopened and out lyddite shells set fire to the Boer wagons. We continued shelling the laager through the night, and in the morning we resumed with Maxims and rifles, principally from the north side.

On Sunday there was much waste of life in attacking, and the same result will be achieved with it. During Monday night seven Boers made an attempt to break through our lines, but they were captured, and the leader was killed. Four were carrying letters. It is believed that there was one other, who got through.

Other prisoners say that General Cronje marched from Magersfontein here without outspanning, a distance of 33 miles. Had he succeeded in escaping it would have been one of the finest performances in the annals of war.

The Canadians made a gallant charge at the laager, but were driven back with loss.

General MacDonald and General Knox are only slightly wounded.

The war officer, for the first time, has given out an official compilation of the British losses. The total is 11,208 to Feb. 17. This does not include, therefore, Lord Roberts' recent losses, nor the Wiltshire prisoners, which will make the total considerably above 12,000.

The press association learns that the British losses at Koodoosrand were 700.

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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