The Minute Book
Friday, 15 April 2016

Gold Lace
Topic: Militaria

Gold Lace

The Capital, Fredericton, N.B., 30 October, 1880

It seems the new Major-General commanding the militia has taken exception to the wearing of gold lace by our militia. A writer in last Saturday's Toronto Globe says:

"But there is a feature—an historical one—in connection with the subject that deserves attention, and I remember when the militia was more active than now in the face of danger to the peace of the country, this historical point was brought into prominence. I simply suggest that a certain warrant, signed by the King after the war of 1812, be unearthed. I believe it lies somewhere in the militias archives, having been transferred from the Public Record Office. According to an old officer, now dead, who was familiar with it, this warrant authorizes the Canadian militia—a Royal force, by the way—to wear the same uniform as His Majesty's "Royal Regiment." Hence it is that the characteristic feature of the Royal livery has been assumed by the artillery and other arms of the service. My informant, who had served in 1812, also stated that it was owing to an accident that silver was assumed in 1862, the contractor in London, who supplied, in great haste, uniform for the militia at the time of the Trent affair, assuming that "militia" uniforms must be after the style of the English force, which bears silver ornaments. The Canadian militia is of course on a different footing, and takes precedence after the regular army. I think, therefore, that for the sake of history and the prominent position of the Canadian militia in a warlike sense, and in view of services rendered, such as no other militia in the British service ever rendered, this point is worthy of revival and investigation."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 3 April 2016

Evolution of Individual Weapons
Topic: Militaria

Evolution of Individual Weapons

Military rifles were not always as excellent as they are today.

US Army FM 23-71; Rifle Marksmanship, July 1964


1.     Military rifles were not always as excellent as they are today. In the early days, black powder and lead balls were used by every nation. Black powder was smoky, dirty, and inefficient compared with modern propellants. When one of these early rifles was fired, a cloud of white smoke disclosed the rifleman's position, and a thick residue, like carbon and soot, was deposited in the bore of the rifle. Black powder has a lower energy content per cubic centimeter compared with modern rifle pow ders which have high velocities.

2.     When the lead ball was fired from the rifle it began to lose speed very quickly. A sphere is poorly shaped for fast travel. Lead balls from some of our early military rifles fired at a muzzle speed (velocity) as high as 2,000 feet per second. But at a distance of 100 meters they would slow to about 1,500 feet per second; whereas a bullet from our M1 or M14 rifle today, at an initial velocity of 2,800 feet per second, loses only about 300 feet per second the first 100 meters.

3.     The lead balls of these early military rifles were often "patched," that is, greased linen, flannel, or thin soft leather was wrapped (and sometimes tied) over the ball. When this greased patch was used it served as a lubricant to ease loading, reduce escaping gas, and keep the ball from losing lead onto the bore as it traveled through it. But sometimes the lead ball was used bare, in which case the bore frequently picked up a lead coating which grew progressively thicker, decreasing the ac curacy with each shot fired until the lead deposit was removed.

4.     The same problem arose from the rough residue left by the burning of black powder. Unless the bores of those early rifles were washed after each shot, the residue became progressively thicker, making the diameter of the bore smaller. Since most early rifles were muzzle-loaders, it became increasingly difficult to load, and accuracy diminished, due to constantly reduced bore diameter. The effort re quired just to ram a lead ball, patched or not, down 32 or more inches of barrel became first exhausting and then all but impossible.

5.     The inefficiency of black powder and early projectiles led early rifle makers to build their weapons with longer barrels and in larger caliber bores than our rifles of today. This combination gave as high velocity as could be obtained without making rifles completely awkward to handle and gave the desired killing effect needed for fighting infantry and cavalry. When you cannot propel a missile at high velocity, you must increase the weight in order to get adequate effect. Any increase in weight with a ball projectile results from an increase in diameter.

6.     In time the round projectile gave way to the elongated one. It had been discovered as early as the late 1700's that elongated missiles were more efficient in flight and traveled to tremendously greater maximum ranges. Massed squad and platoon fire with elongated bullet rifles could be effective at 1,000 meters or more. Several years prior to the war of 1861— 65, the elongated bullet rifle was adopted al most worldwide because it permitted faster loading. Successful methods of making metal cartridge cases had not yet been found, so most of the first bullet rifles were muzzle-loaders too. The early Sharps rifle was one of the exceptions. It was a breech-loader taking a linen cartridge. Because there was no metal cartridge case, such as is used in modern rifles, a portion of the gas generated by the powder flashed out at the juncture of breech-block and receiver of this rifle.

7.     By 1870 nearly all armies had adopted breech-loading infantry rifles (usually single shot) which usually fired fixed, metallic, black powder, lead bullet cartridges in calibers ranging from .40 to .45. These improved firearms could be fired by a trained soldier 15 or more times a minute. Lever action repeating rifles had been developed to a level of real usability by 1861, but had to be held to lesser powder levels (for design reasons) than was desirable for infantry use. The Spencer and Henry lever- action rifles were used in the war of 1861-65 by many cavalry units. The Spencer carried seven cartridges and the Henry carried 16. Both weapons had a reach of about 225 meters, and the rate of fire was five shots to one, com pared with the standard muzzle-loader.

8.     The year 1886 was an historic one in infantry rifle design. France adopted a manually operated bolt-action rifle of caliber .32 (8-mm) jacketed bullet design (to prevent melting and failure to spin in the rifling grooves) for use with nitrocellulose (smokeless) powder. The ancient bondage to black powder had been dis solved. Soldiers using these newer rifles found that very little smoke was given off in firing to disclose their positions. By 1888 Britain and Germany used similar new designs. And in 1892 the United States followed suit. By 1898 no modern army was without a smaller caliber repeating rifle of the new type. The new arms were of 5- to 10-shot capacity, ranging in caliber from .32 to .26 as compared to the older .40 to .45 caliber sizes. Nitrocellulose propellants and advances in metallurgy had permitted a reduction in bullet diameter, a retention of adequate shocking; power, an increase in average accuracy and penetration, and a flattening of trajectory (extension of the limit of grazing fire) by as much as 50 percent or more. Logistically, the weight of individual rifle cartridges had dropped by as much as 40 per cent.

9.     The Springfield 1903 rifle reflected the era of high development in rifles operated manually, which ended in 1936 with the introduction into U.S. service of the Garand design, designated M1. This first of the successful gas-operated rifles of full infantry power outgunned enemy rifles in Europe and the Pacific in the ratio of 3 to 1. It was rugged, sure functioning, powerful, and accurate. The tiring bolt manipulation, so painfully learned by former generations of American soldiers, was no longer necessary.

10.     The M1 rifle ushered in an era that saw foreign nations scrambling for semiautomatic designs in individual infantry weapons. Britain and France discarded their old, time proven bolt actions and took up the Belgian FN design. Soviet Russia developed as her now standard infantry weapon, a rifle-powered submachine- gun of 30 shot capacity (the AK). And the U.S., exploiting the potential of John G. Garand's M1, has modernized it as the M14 for increased cartridge capacity (20 shots instead of 8) and quick and simple adaptation to the automatic rifle role.

11.     On 1 May 1957, the Secretary of the Army announced the adoption of the new rifle. The M14 is equipped with a light barrel and is designed primarily to replace the M1 rifle in a semiautomatic fire role. It can be converted to automatic fire by merely replacing the selector lock with a selector lever. The M14 weighs approximately 11 pounds when combat loaded, A bipod will add an additional pound when the M14 is used in the automatic rifle role.

12.     The M14 is basically the same in design as the M1 rifle. Design changes, in nearly all instances, were made to accommodate the shorter 7.62-mm cartridge and to allow for the use of a magazine instead of a clip for holding ammunition. Consequently, the receiver, bolt, and firing pin are shorter, and the floor plate of the trigger housing is cut away to allow for the magazine. The most significant advantage of the M14 design is that it offers an increase of 12 rounds in magazine capacity over the M1 rifle with NO INCREASE IN WEIGHT. The most significant advantage of the M14 with bipod (in the automatic rifle role) is that it offers the same magazine capacity as the BAR with a DECREASE IN WEIGHT. The weight saving of the M14 with bipod is about 10 pounds.

13.     The new 7.62-mm cartridge is approximately 1/2-inch shorter than the caliber .30 M2 cartridge and 12 percent lighter. New developments in powder permit the use of less powder in a shorter case without sacrificing velocity or increase in permissible pressure.

Relationship of Individual Weapon Design to Combat Use of the Weapon.

14.     To fully understand rifle marksmanship and rifle marksmanship training, it is necessary to know something of rifles, their characteristics and combat usefulness. The rifle is the primary individual weapon for all armies because it is the most versatile and effective weapon which can be carried and used by a soldier in combat. The rifle can fire ordinary bullets to kill enemy soldiers; it can fire armor-piercing bullets to wreck truck engines; it can fire tracer bullets to point out targets; and it can fire incendiary bullets to start fires in in flammable materials. Add to this the fact that the rifle can also shoot signal flares and powerful grenades and you can see that the rifle is one of the most important weapons in the army.

15.     But why the rifle? Isn't a hand weapon such as a pistol, revolver, or a hand grenade more convenient in combat? A hand weapon is far more convenient but it cannot do the wide and far-reaching job of a shoulder weapon. The rifle is a weapon that can kill or destroy at a considerable distance so that the enemy can be prevented from getting too close. If individual weapons can reach out a considerable distance it is easier to keep the enemy where larger, more powerful supporting weapons can smash him. The rifleman's weapon must be so constructed that it can be held with steadiness while he directs accurate fire, powerful enough to kill enemy soldiers, as far away as marksmanship skill and the precision of the weapon will allow.

16.     Here is where the sciences enter the picture. Man's scientific level today is such that it still takes the relatively long, steel barrel and wooden or plastic stock of a rifle to obtain the desired performance. It takes a certain quantity of today's rifle powder to move a certain size rifle bullet at a certain speed so that it will have a certain desired effect on the targets appropriate to it.

17.     Closely related to the sciences of metallurgy, chemistry, and ballistics, which give us our firearms, is the related field of human mechanics. Human mechanics evaluates man's anatomy to deduce the best systems of weapon configuration. Such items as length of rifle stock, distance between handgrip (pistol grip on a rifle) surface to pressure surface of the trigger, shape of operating handles, and a thousand other minute and often undreamed of details go into the design of a rifle.

18.     Many scientific and mechanical factors influence marksmanship in some way. Metal lurgy has a large share in determining the weight and bulk of a rifle, as well as its mech anism. Chemistry dictates heavily the ballistic qualities of the rifle. Ballistics in turn fuses together the knowledge of metallurgy and chemistry and adds physics in the design of a cartridge and projectile that will satisfy com bat requirements.

19.     The complex package called a "rifle" is what soldiers live by on the battlefield. If the design is well done, the rifle will fit the average man very well and will deliver accurate and deadly fire on targets. Seven essential qualities of a modern combat rifle are:

a.     It must be accurate.

b.     Its trajectory must be flat.

c.     Its recoil must be moderate.

d.     It must be powerful.

e.     It must be easy to master.

f.     Its mechanism must be unfailing.

g. It and its ammunition (in quantity) must be light enough to carry under combat conditions.

20.     We are now in an era of "Emphasis on Accuracy." The vast numbers of our potential enemies clearly point up the fact that accurate rifle fire is the key to success. A soldier who merely "sprays" shots in the vicinity of the enemy produces little effect. Against an un seasoned enemy such fire may be temporarily effective, but the result is not lasting. The mission of the rifleman is to kill the enemy. Against seasoned troops, spraying shots have little effect. Someone once gave what is perhaps the best definition of firepower when he said that, "firepower is bullets hitting people!" The M1 rifle and the M14 rifle are accurate weapons.

21.     Trajectory-wise, the M1 and M14 rifles are "flat-shooting." That is, their bullets travel very fast, so they can't fall very much below the line of sight over their usable range. And because the bullets don't "drop" much below the extended line of the bore over combat ranges, it is relatively easy to make hits with them. Moderate recoil means that the muzzle climb in firing is moderate, which makes for fast recovery between shots. This is very important in rapid fire in combat against numbers of enemy.

22.     The U.S. military rifle must be powerful. That means it must be able to kill an enemy soldier as far away as the rifleman can surely hit him. It must penetrate enemy helmets and body armor easily up to the same range. It should have enough punch to tear through the side of enemy trucks to kill personnel riding within, or to destroy the truck engine. The bullets of the caliber .30 or 7.62-mm rifles are relatively small and light—fine for high speed; yet they are heavy enough and large enough in diameter to deliver a killing blow when they get where they are going.

23.     The M1 and M14 rifles are extremely simple in design, allowing for quick mastery even by those with no previous knowledge of firearms design. As for functioning, the exhaustive tests of Ordnance personnel, who put these designs through their developmental paces and field testing by using units, have confirmed the reliability of the weapons mechanisms.

24.     Lightness of rifle and ammunition is a highly controversial issue. By some standards the M1 and M14 (and indeed all military arms) are heavy, but it must be remembered that the ruggedness of a military weapon is something which precludes matching the six-pound weight of a commercial hunting rifle. And the much-argued-for superiority of lightweight alloys, plastics, and glass compounds must be balanced against the yet-to-be confirmed field observations of their wearing qualities and stress resistances.

25.     The 7.62-mm NATO cartridge, standard for our M14 rifles and M60 machine guns, is actually lighter than the older caliber .30 cartridge by approximately 12 percent. This means that our fighting men carry more ammunition than before with no increase in total weight of field load.

26.     All in all, U.S. service rifles are admirable weapons; very accurate, very deadly. They are the backbone of our land power.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 21 March 2016

Colours; Excerpts from Canadian Regulations
Topic: Militaria

All Colours which have been consecrated and presented to a unit of the Canadian Forces (CF), whether donated or provided at public expense, are and remain Crown property in perpetuity, and are controlled by the Department of National Defence on behalf of the Canadian government.


The following extracts are from the Canadian Armed Forces publication A-AD-200-000/AG-000, The Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces (from a pdf copy dated 17 August 2001). Questions regarding Colours which have been laid up in churches or other places should be directed to the Directorate of History and Heritage at National Defence Headquarters.

Chapter 5 — Colours

Section 1 — Policies and Procedures

Colours are a unit's most prized possession. They are presented personally by the Sovereign or by an individual, normally the Governor General, nominated to act on the Sovereign's behalf. Historically, Colours marked and provided a rallying point for army regiments in the line of battle. Today, they are no longer carried in action or held by a unit in a theatre of war. They continue, however, as visible symbols of pride, honour and devotion to Sovereign and country.

On presentation, Colours are consecrated by the Chaplain General assisted by the unit chaplains; when the Chaplain General is unable to be present, he will personally designate a chaplain to officiate for him. Through this means, Colours are sanctified and devoted to service as symbols of honour and duty; all members of the unit, regardless of classification, rededicate themselves to constancy in the maintenance of these qualities. Once consecrated, Colours are closely guarded and they are honoured by the appropriate compliment while uncased.

elipsis graphic

Because of their symbolism and purpose, Colours belong to a separate class from other flags and are not paraded with other flags in any Colour party.

elipsis graphic

Parading Colours. In Canadian practice, Colours and Colour parties are never paraded separately from the military body whose presence they mark and whose honour and duty they represent. They are only paraded as an integral part of the formation or unit concerned. An order to a unit which implies giving up control of its Colour can be seen as a sign of disgrace. Except as detailed in sub-paragraph c. below, commanding officers are responsible for ensuring that their Colours are never paraded with or by another unit. Thus:

a.     In general, whenever a unit or a major portion of a unit is paraded on a ceremonial occasion, the unit's Colour or Colours may also be paraded.

b.     Except for the special case of guards, including escorts and guards of honour, when small portions of a unit are paraded separately they are regarded as detachments rather than the unit itself. In these cases the Colour or Colours remain with the unit.

c.     Colour parties from different formations or units are never combined into a single massed Colour party except immediately prior to joining their units at the beginning of a joint parade or after a joint consecration, or after being fallen out from their units to be lodged, deposited or laid up. Under special circumstances, Colour parties of several battalions of the same regiment may be combined when these battalions are brigaded on a purely regimental parade and not scheduled to manoeuvre separately; the combined Colour party then marks the entire regimental line. (If units manoeuvre, the Colours take post back with their battalion.)

elipsis graphic

Section 2 — Retirement and Disposal of Colours

All Colours which have been consecrated and presented to a unit of the Canadian Forces (CF), whether donated or provided at public expense, are and remain Crown property in perpetuity, and are controlled by the Department of National Defence on behalf of the Canadian government. The Colours are memorials to the brave deeds and sacrifices of the units and individuals who serve under them. If deposited or laid-up, they are the responsibility of the custodian and must remain accessible to the public. Formal permission from National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ)/Director History and Heritage (DHH) is required before removal for any purpose.

Custodians shall ensure that laid-up and deposited Colours are kept on display to the general public. They may not be stored or displayed in unaccessible areas, e.g. stored in sliding drawers in museum curatorial spaces with restricted access for scholarly research purposes only.

Under no circumstances are Colours or portions of Colours allowed to pass into the possession of private individuals. If the custodian can no longer preserve them, they must be returned to NDHQ/DHH for disposal, unless mutually satisfactory arrangements can be made with the unit and DHH.

When Colours are honourably retired and laid-up, they are left to decay and disintegrate, normally on their pikes or lances, until they cease to exist. Although the custodian may preserve the Colours under glass or otherwise handle them to retard disintegration, they shall never be restored. To do so would be akin to creating facsimiles of the consecrated originals. Although there are instances of replicas being made of Colours, NDHQ will not authorize their use or production. If replicas are identified, they must be clearly marked for historical or display purposes.They cannot be consecrated, carried or deposited, and they are not entitled to the honours accorded consecrated Colours.

Pieces which become detached while a Colour is laid-up, lose their sacred status and shall be burnt to ashes. Pikes, cords and pike heads for laid-up Colours shall not be replaced from public, non-public or private funds.

Serviceable Colours of a disbanded unit remain the property of the Crown and may be reactivated should the unit be reconstituted. In such case, DHH shall issue instructions through command headquarters to ensure that Colours can be reclaimed from the custody of those persons entrusted with deposit.

elipsis graphic

After Colours have been laid-up, they are considered memorials and are not normally displaced by Colours laid-up later, e.g., by the Colours if a regiment senior in precedence to the one whose Colours were originally laid-up. Laid-up Colours become extremely brittle and delicate over time. Custodians should ensure that they are disturbed as little as possible to extend their life.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 20 March 2016 9:48 PM EDT
Monday, 1 February 2016

Handling the Swagger Stick Requires Art
Topic: Militaria

Handling the Swagger Stick Requires Art

Dashing Captain at Chateau Theirry as Model Exponent

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 26 March 1919

"It sure is an art to carry a swagger stick and get away with it, gracefully," The speaker was a lithe, tanned individual in a lieutenant's uniform, standing on Grand avenue, watching the promenade of people with the swagger sticks bought as souvenirs of the war exposition.

"The women do it more gracefully than the men," he opined, "I wonder why." here they came in a steady procession, with the little thing, too bulky for a toothpick, and too futile for a walking stick, some holding it like an overgrown cigarette, and some like a murderous "billy," and all more or less self-consciously.

"At Chateau Thierry we had a captain who carried one better than anyone I ever saw," he continued. "Just before the 'zero hour,' he sat there smoking a cigarette and tapping his boot. Occasionally he would glance at his wrist watch. Gosh, it it had been anyone but the captain his actions would have looked sissified, but with him it was pure art. All at once he tossed away his cigarette, waved his swagger stick, and we followed him over the top. He went just ten feet when they dropped him. He was dying, but he raised up on his elbow, waved that little stick, and yelled, 'Give 'em hell, boys!' and take it from me we did."

Swagger Sticks

The Milwaukee Journal, 22 September 1917

Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Barry passed a wise ruling at Camp Grant when he ordered all soldiers to conform to the army regulations governing wearing apparel, and expressly forbade the men from carrying swagger sticks.

The swagger stick does not inspire in the public the confidence that the public should feel for an officer or soldier. It indicates lack of seriousness or purpose, a desire to make upon small boys, giddy youths and a susceptible populace an impression of self-importance. It tends to arouse a suspicion that the soldier is more intent of a dashing appearance than on the serious business of beating Germany. Its very name suggests boastfulness, immaturity, playing to the grand stand. A cane is an old man's support, and a young man's pride. A swagger stick is a soldier's foppery.

The Senior Subaltern

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, 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
Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Topic: Militaria

25-Pounder Field Gun-Howitzer

Artillery in the Desert, Prepared by Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, 25 November 1942.

Fire from the British 25-pounder (3.45 inch) field gun-howitzer, the basic field piece for the British Army, has been extremely effective for two reasons:

(1)     the 25-pounder is an excellent field gun, and

(2)     British artillery was well-trained before the outbreak of the war.

German tanks when struck by 25-pounder armor-piercing shell at ranges less than 1,000 yards have sometimes been knocked out; some have had turrets completely blown off, and others have been set afire. Indirect 25-pounder fire is. However, not effective for stopping tank attacks, but it can cause tanks to "button up" their hatches. Reports of indirect fire's stopping tank attacks are believed to be erroneous interpretations of the repulse of reconnaissance in force.

The 25-pounder has been replacing both the 18-pounder and the 4.5-inch howitzer of the last war. The tube has a removable liner which can be changed in the field. The gun can be placed in firing order on its platform in 1 minute. The firing platform is in the form of a wheel which is either carried under the trail or on the back of the prime mover. To place the piece in action, the platform is lowered to the ground and the carriage is either manhandled or tractor-drawn over it and coupled to its center. To permit easy maneuvering of the trail, the spade has been embedded in a "box" commonly called a "banana," which functions very effectively and prevents the trail from digging in. The muzzle velocities with its three normal charges are 650, 975, and 1,470 feet per second, and with supercharge 1,700 feet per second.

  • Nature of weapon: field gun-howitzer.
  • Weight: 3,968 pounds.
  • Length: 25 feet, 11 inches, including trailer (barrel, 92.5 inches).
  • Traverse: 360° on firing platform, 8° without platform.
  • Elevation: –5° to +40°.
  • Maximum range: 12,500 yards.
  • Ammunition: projectiles: armor-piercing (20 pounds), HE (25 pounds), and smoke (base-ejection type, 21.8 pounds); charges: three and a supercharge for HE.
  • Rate of fire: 8 rounds per minute (rapid) and 3 rounds per minute for prolonged firing.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

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

The Sabre
Topic: Militaria

The Sabre

Military Men and Matters
The Montreal Gazette, 8 January 1892

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

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 4 May 2015

2-inch Mortar Ammunition (1949)
Topic: Militaria

2-inch Mortar Ammunition (1949)

During and after the Second World War, the 2-inch mortar was carried as an infantry platoon support weapon in the British and Canadian armies (among others). A variety of ammunition types were available for the mortar, including high explosive, smoke, illuminating flares, and signal flares.. The following diagrams, taken from Infantry Training, Volume I, Infantry Support Weapons, Pamphlet No. 8, The 2-inch Mortar (1949) show the ammunition types, identifying markings and mechanisms.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Lewis Gun; 1915
Topic: Militaria

Lewis Gun Fires 400 Per Minute

Weapon Which Ontario Government Will Supply to the Forces

The Montreal Gazette, 23 July 1915

The machine guns which the Ontario Government will supply to the Canadian forces at the front at a cost of $200,000 might rather be termed rifles. The official name of the weapon is "The Lewis Automatic Machine Gun," but it weighs only 25 pounds without its tripod support, which is four and a half pounds in weight. Thus the whole gun may be carried about by one man, and operated by one man, without difficulty. A powerful man may even use the weapon from the shoulder, as though it were an ordinary rifle.

The gun can fire 400 rounds a minute, including the time necessary to change magazines, each of which contains 47 rounds. It is in operation in the French and Belgian trenches at the present time, and is somewhat similar to a Hotchkiss automatic rifle, employed by the French.

The Lewis gun is designed in such a manner that the only tool necessary to dismantle it completely is an ordinary service cartridge, the point of whose bullet is used to disconnect every portion of the mechanism, and this operation is a such a simple matter that the gun can be dismantled, and any small damaged part replaced, well within five minutes. The weapon takes the service ammunition, and its range is similar to that of the service rifles. When used on a fixed mount, the butt stock may be removed and a "spade handle" substituted.

The gun is of very ingenious construction. A detachable magazine loaded with 47 cartridges is attached to a suitable fixing on the barrel near its after end, the first cartridge being fed from the magazine into the firing chamber by the first forward movement of the firing pin, which is, however, arrested before the striker reaches the cartridge unless the trigger is held back. When the trigger is pressed, the striker, carried forward by the mainspring, explodes the cartridge in position in the firing chamber. Before the bullet leaves the barrel, under the influence of the gas pressure, it uncovers a hole connecting the barrel with a cylinder below, lying parallel with it, and a portion of the gas passes into the lower cylinder driving back this piston, and, with it, the rod against the pressure of the mainspring. The movement of the rod recocks the gun, throws out the expended cartridge case, and during the early stage of its return journey, under the mainspring's influence, transfers a live cartridge from the magazine to the chamber.

If the gunner lets go of the trigger firing ceases, and the gun remains cocked until the trigger is again pressed. If, however, he keeps a continuous pressure on the trigger, the weapon continues to fire until all the cartridges in the magazine are exhausted, the rate of continuous fire being as high as 440 rounds per minute, including the interval occupied by replacing empty magazines with loaded ones.

The dissipation of the intense heat developed by the almost continuous combustion of explosive charges in the barrel of the machine gun presents a somewhat difficult problem, and failure to accomplish this efficiently causes the barrel to become red hot and prematurely to explode the incoming cartridge. The barrels of the Lewis gun and the Hotchkiss gun are both cooled by means of ribs which radiate the heat into the atmosphere, those of the Lewis gun being placed longitudinally and contained in a steel casing, through which cook air is drawn by the "exhausting" effect of the powder blast in the muzzle end of the casing, in the same way that air is drawn through the fire-box of a locomotive by the blast of the exhaust steam in the chimney.

The recoil on the Lewis gun is counter-balanced in a very simple and ingenious manner, the gas from the discharge being directed by means of a cone attached to the muzzle of the barrel proper, on to the inner surface of the casing, so that the friction between the gas and the metal casing tends to carry the gun forward with the stream of gas, and so counter-balance the force of the recoil acting in the opposite direction. The mainspring of the Hotchkiss gun takes the form of an ordinary coil-spring acting in compression situated in the cylinder underneath the barrel; whilst the same unit in the Lewis is a spring of the type used for the mainspring of a watch, but naturally of a much greater power. This spring is coiled up in a circular case attached to the gun just in front of the trigger, in a position sufficiently far from the barrel to be unaffected by the heat, and, consequently, in no danger of losing its temper from overheating. The Hotchkiss mainspring acts directly on the piston rod, which it surrounds; whilst the Lewis is coupled to its rod by a rack and pinion.

The magazine of the Lewis gun is circular in shape, the forty-seven cartridges with which it is loaded being radially in two layers with their bullets pointing toward the centre.


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Queen's Scarves
Topic: Militaria

The Queen's Scarf presented to Private Richard Roland Thompson of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

(A replica of this scarf can be viewed at The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, London, Ontario.)

The Queen's Scarves

(From our Special Correspondent.)
London. June 20, 1902.

The Advertiser; Adelaide, SA

Last Tuesday's "Gazette" contained dispatches addressed to the Secretary of State for War by both Earl Roberts and Lord Kitchener. Earl Roberts' communication is dated March 1 last, and is in continuation of his dispatch dated London, September 4, 1001, in which he brought to notice the services rendered by the various arms and departments of the army in South Africa during the time he was in chief command there, up to November 29, 1900. He submits names of additional officers, non-commissioned officers, men, nurses, and civilians, who also rendered meritorious service. The delay in completing the list was partly caused by the pressure of work at the War Office as well as by the necessity for repeated references to South Africa. Apart from these reasons, however, Earl Roberts thought it desirable to allow such a period to elapse before forwarding his final recommendations as would enable him to receive representations from general and commanding officers in the held on behalf of those whose names might have been overlooked in the previous dispatches. Earl Roberts desires that all the mentions now made may be considered as bearing the same date, November 29, 1900, as those in the previous dispatch.

In conclusion he says:—

"I desire to place on record that in April, 1900. Her Majesty Queen Victoria was graciously pleased to send me four woollen scarves, worked by herself, for distribution to the four most distinguished private soldiers in the colonial forces of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa then serving under my command. The selection for these gifts of honor waa made by the officers commanding the contingents concerned, it being understood that gallant conduct in the field was to be considered the primary qualification."

The names of those to whom the scarves were presented are:—

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 22 April 2015 12:52 AM EDT
Saturday, 11 April 2015

Maxim and Lewis Guns Not Rivals
Topic: Militaria

Weapons that are Winning the War

Maxim and Lewis Guns Not Rivals

The Independent, St Petersburg, Florida; 19 Dec 1917

Washington, D.C., Dec. 19.—American army officers who have visited the front line tell of considerable rivalry and argument among American and British soldiers regarding the respective merits of the Lewis gun, invented by Isaac Lewis, of the Unites States Army, and the Vickers-Maxim, which the British claim as strictly their own invention, forgetting that Sir Hiram Maxim was born in Maine.

As a matter of fact, the ordnance experts do not consider the Lewis and maxim guns as rivals. Within the past year the use of both the Maxim and Lewis guns has undergone a great change. Each weapon is now working strictly within its limitations, and except by accident one does not attempt to do the work of the other.

The Lewis gun was not designed to be a machine-gun. The Machine-gun is now an artillery weapon, the Lewis gun an infantry weapon. Like the Vickers-Maxim, it has an automatic recoil. But, apart from that, the two guns have little in common.

The Lewis is fired like a rifle; the Maxim is fired like a machine. The Lewis is a mobile weapon, almost equalling a rifle; the mobility of the Maxim is limited.

The Lewis gun is operated by one man; the Maxim by two. The Lewis goes "over the top" in the first wave of an assault, while the Maxim waits until positions have been consolidated. The Lewis fires from a drum, the Maxim from a belt. The Lewis is air-cooled; the Maxim has a water-jacket.

Once the Lewis gun is considered not as a machine-gun, but as a super automatic rifle, it is recognized as a perfect weapon, and as such is honored in France by having a school for instruction in its use all to itself. There, gunners are taught how to mount the Lewis gun on a parapet or on an aeroplane; to fire it from horseback or from the back of another man; to use it against a too-daring, low-flying enemy aeroplane; to co-operate with the machine-gun or to fight alone.

The Lewis is a rifle, a bit longer than the familiar Lee-Enfield, and with a huge cylinder encasing the inner barrel. It fires from a trigger, and so long as the operator keeps the trigger pressed the Lewis will fire—until the forty-seven cartridges of the drum are exhausted. It is a matter of some 10 seconds to put on another drum.

The gun rests on a little tripod and is fired from the shoulder. Germans have been known to fire the same type of gun from the hip, but the preferred position is lying down straight behind the gun, thus giving the enemy about one foot of frontage to fire at in return.

The Lewis gun cannot be used like the Maxim to form a barrage when the troops of the Allies are going over to prevent relief coming up to the enemy position under attack. The range of the Lewis is changed by the least shake of the gunner's arm, and its bullets might be deflected into our own troops.

The rate at which the Lewis gun fires is seven hundred rounds per minute. That is to say, while the drum is on the bullets leave the rifle at that rate. The actual top-notch firing amount to five drums or so per minute, with 47 shots to the drum.

But both the Lewis and the Vickers-Maxim are indispensables. They are comrades in arms, and not rivals. The American and British troops on the western front are trained to use both and frequently find room for the use of the Hotchkiss in addition. The German army uses guns of both types and so does practically every other army in the field.

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 16 March 2015

British Artillery; Ammunition Considerations (1908)
Topic: Militaria

British Artillery; Ammunition Considerations (1908)

Military Engineering (Part 1), Field Defences, 1908

Horse and field artillery fire shrapnel shell of about 12 and 18 lbs. weight, with time and percussion fuzes. At short and medium ranges these light projectiles, owing to their high velocity, are easily deflected by very small parapets. At longer ranges, their penetration, before burst, is slight. Field gun shells therefore, used against troops behind earthworks, depend for their effect chiefly upon their searching power when burst in the air.

The principal use of common shell, which is used with a percussion fuze, is for ranging. It may also be used for the destruction of field magazines and earthworks, and for the attack of buildings. The small amount of bursting charge in the common shell of field guns reduces the possibility of good effect against earthworks, while as a man-killing projectile it is very inferior to shrapnel.

Percussion shrapnel is use for ranging, and against troops in buildings of behind cover such as walls. The fire of percussion shrapnel will be effective against troops defending any ordinary building.

Time shrapnel is employed against troops under all conditions other than the above. The present fuze is effective up to about 6,000 yds.

The angle of the cone of dispersion of the bullets (generally called the angle of opening) is about 20°. The angle increases slightly with the range, because the forward velocity of the shell decreases more rapidly than the velocity of rotation, so that the influence of the latter increases. In estimating the front covered by the spread of the bullets, it may be taken as from 35 to 40 per cent. of the distance at which the shell is burst short of the target.

The searching power of the bullet varies directly as the angle of its descent. To find approximately the greatest searching power of a shrapnel, half the angle of opening should be added to the slope of the descent of the shell. The slope of descent of the shell is:—

  • At 1500 yds, about 1 in 20.
  • At 2000 yds, about 1 in 13.
  • At 3000 yds, about 1 in 7.
  • At 4000 yds, about 1 in 4.

The splinters of common shell from guns, even of those high high explosive bursting charges, all go forward, whether burst in the air with time fuze, or on impact with percussion fuze. If burst in the air, their searching power is much greater than that of shrapnel, but it is very difficult, even under peace conditions, to burst the shell in exactly the right place over a trench.

Field gun shells are not intended to destroy earthwork. Against deep trenches with low, flat parapets, field artillery has but little effect. The tendency of the shell to glance on striking an earth parapet is specially marked in the cae where the latter is composed of sand and light soil. Such soil falls back into the craters formed, and thus little impression can be made on good earth at moderately long ranges.

The 60-pr. B.L. and 4.7-in. Q.F. are examples of heavy artillery guns. Their range is longer than that of field artillery, and their shrapnel bullets are heavier; their searching power is, however, little greater, and their shells are equally liable to be deflected by a very slight bank of earth,

These guns can best be employed against trenches or other earthworks by bringing an oblique or enfilade fire to bear. Their long range frequently enables them to sweep the enemy's position whilst keeping out of range of his rifle fire.

Field howitzers have been introduced into the British as well as into several foreign armies. They produce results otherwise unobtainable, since their high angle fire will search out troops behind cover which would render field artillery harmless. They are also used to attack closed works, overhead cover, villages, fire trenches, etc.

The 5-in. shell of 50-lbs. weight, with bursting charge of 9 lbs. 15 ozs. of high explosive, is especially effective against troops crowded together in such works as field redoubts, or in buildings or villages. Shrapnel shell with field howitzers can be used effectively at ranges up to about 5,000 yards; the angle of descent of the bullets may be anything up to 1/1.

Plate I gives an idea of the action of various kinds of projectiles. It will be observe that piratically the only one which has any backward effect after burst is the howitzer common shell, fired at high angle of elevation.

This question is one which should be carefully studied by all officers, since it is impossible to design field defences properly without a clear and accurate conception of the effects of artillery projectiles.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 9 March 2015

The Lewis Gun
Topic: Militaria

The Lewis Gun

Introduced during the First World War, the Lewis Gun proved its effectivemness as a light machine gun in the trenches of France and Flanders. Maintained in Commonwealth armies during the interwar period, Lewis Guns were deployed in home defence roles in Britain in the early years of the Second World War. The following images are taken from the National Defence Pocket Book, an aide memoire and notebook provided to soldiers on Home Defence duties.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Intrenching Tools 1908
Topic: Militaria

Intrenching Tools

Military Engineering (Part 1), Field Defences, 1908

Under the heading of intrenching tools are included pickaxes, shovels, spades and crowbars. The light intrenching tool will also be included as soon as it is issued to the army.

The latest pattern of pickaxe has a 4 ½ lb. Steel head, and a wooden helve with a steel ferrule to fit the head. The object of this ferrule is to strengthen the helve at the weakest point, and to make it easily detachable from the head.

A pickaxe with an 8 lb. Head can be obtained from Ordnance Stores if heavy work is expected.

The word "pickaxe" is usually abbreviated into "pick."

The R.E. shovel is a commercial pattern of shovel weighing about 5 lbs.

The G.S. shovel is a shovel similar to the above, but weighing only 3 ½ lbs., and having a much smaller blade.

Only a very small proportion of spades are carried, as they are of little use in the field. They are employed for cutting sods, for working in clay, and for digging generally when a pickaxe is not required.

Crowbars also are carried only in small numbers. They are of use for loosening rocks, making holes for pickets in hard ground, etc.

Use of Tools

Careful instruction and practice in the use of intrenching tools are essential to good and rapid work.

When using the full-sized tools, each digger is usually provided with a pick and a shovel. The shovel should be used only for shoveling up earth already loosened by the pick, except in particularly soft earth, where the pick may sometimes be dispensed with. Men should be practiced so as to shovel equally well with either the right or left-hand on the T-head. When throwing earth horizontally, the shovel should be brought smartly forward in the required direction until the hands are level with the shoulder, both hands retaining their hold of the tool, which should, however, be allowed to slide easily through the hand which grasps the helve. Anything in the nature of a jerk should be avoided. Earth thrown properly from a shovel should all fall in a compact mass. Beginners generally try to take up too much earth in the shovel. Navvies make great use of the thigh in thrusting the shovel under the loosened earth.

The pick is used for loosening the earth prior to shovelling. Too much earth should not be loosened at once, as it gets under the digger's feet, and is difficult to shovel. Men using the pick are not allowed under ordinary circumstances to work sideways in their task, but only to the front and rear, so as to avoid the risk of striking their neighbours. This risk becomes especially great in the dark.

The pointed end of the pick is for use in stony ground; the chisel end for cutting off the top sods, and, in soft soil, for loosening lager pieces. Men using the pick should always endeavour to get a vertical face to their work. Before striking the pick into the ground, it should be raised well above the digger's head by both hands. In bringing it down, the helve should slide through the hand nearest the head of the pick, and the weight of the tool should be employed to help in the work. Where picks are much used, a small forge should be at hand, to allow of their constantly being sharpened or re-steeled.

For work in clay, spades are better than shovels. Where possible, water should be provided to wet the blades.

Intrenching and cutting tools are caried by cavalry, artillery, engineers (field companies and field troops), and infantry. The detail of the tools carried is given in the Field Service Manuals of the various arms.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Service Bicycle, Mark IV
Topic: Militaria

Service Bicycle, Mark IV, in Marching Order

Appendix I, Cyclist Training (Provisional), 1914

1.     The water-proof cape (in peace) or the ground sheet (used as a cape in war) will be carried on the front carrier, and the pack on the rear carrier.

2.     The "corps marks" (Appendix XX, Equipment Regulations, Part I) should be across the read mudguard, 4 inches above the bridge, and on the upper side of the bottom tube, commencing just clear of the bottom lug of the ball head.

3.     The rifle is held by clips, one clip being attached to the right side of the backstay, and the other to the centre of the handlebar, and the rifle is carried with the fore-end resting on the handlebar, and the butt in the backstay clip.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 22 February 2015

Lee-Enfield Service Rifle
Topic: Militaria

Lee-Enfield Service Rifle

Military Engineering (Part 1), Field Defences, 1908

The service rifle is the Lee-Enfield. It is universal for all arms. Length, 3 ft, 8 ½ in. men muzzle velocity about 2,000 f.s. Its calibre is .303-in.

The slopes of descent of the bullet at various ranges are roughly:—

  • At 1000 yards, 1 in 30.
  • At 1500 yards, 1 in 12.
  • At 2000 yards, 1 in 6.5.
  • At 2500 yards, 1 in 3.
  • At 2800 yards, 1 in 2.5.

The following table gives the thickness in various materials, proof against a bullet fired from the short Lee-Enfield Service Rifle at 30 yards range. The bullets of some continental armies have, however, greater penetration.

Material.Thickness proof.Remarks.
Clay5'Varies greatly. This is maximum for greasy clay.
Earth free from stones (un-rammed)3'Ramming earth reduces its resisting power.
Sand2' 6"Rather more than enough. Very high velocity bullet have less penetration in sand at short than at medium ranges.
Sand (between boards)18" 
Brickwork9"If well built.
Soft wood, e.g., fir48"24" proof at 500 yards.
Hard wood, e.g., oak27"15" proof at 500 yards.
Wrought iron, or mild steel1/2" 
Hardened steel plate1/4"1/10" proof at 600 yards.
Special hard steel1/5" 
Coal (steam)2' 6" 
Chalk1'When freshly excavated.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 19 February 2015

Motorcycles Technical Instruction 1914
Topic: Militaria

Technical Instruction of Motor Cycles

Appendix I, Cyclist Training (Provisional), 1914

All motor cyclists must be capable of executing simple repairs to their machines.

They will be instructed on:…

i.     Identifying the different parts of the cycle by name.

ii.     Lubricating the various parts of their machines.

iii.     Repairing and mounting tyres.

iv.     Adjusting brakes.

v.     Shortening, repairing and mounting driving chains.

vi.     Adjusting and tightening bearings.

vii.     Adjusting and cleaning of a carburettor.

viii.     Adjusting and cleaning of a magneto.

ix.     Adjusting and cleaning of belts.

x.     Cleaning, lighting and maintaining acetylene lamps.

xi.     Manipulation of the gas and air levels, so as to obtain the best running, with minimum petrol consumption.

xii.     The theory of a petrol engine, action of the "gears" and "timing wheels"; but these portions of the machine should only be dealt with by a qualified mechanic.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 8 September 2014

Kingsville Military Museum
Topic: Militaria

Kingsville Historical Park

"A Military Museum Plus …"

Tucked in behind Royal Canadian Legion Branch 188 in Kingsville, Ontario, is a military museum that is worth seeking out for anyone traveling through the area. Dedicated to the service and sacrifice of local men and women who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces abroad and at home, in wartime and in peace, this museum has a collection worth taking the time to visit.

See the brochure scan below for hours and directions. If you will be visiting outside of their normal operating hours, call ahead, one of their volunteers may be available to ensure you dont miss this opportunity.



Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Short Rifle, Magazine Lee-Enfield (Mark III)
Topic: Militaria

Short Rifle, Magazine Lee-Enfield (Mark III)

Once Canadian troops in the First World War divested themselves of the Ross Rifle, which had proven very unsuitable for battlefield use, this was the weapon they carried to victory in 1918.

The following is paraphrased from Wikipedia.

The Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th century. It was the British Army's standard rifle from its official adoption in 1895 until 1957. It featured a ten-round box magazine which was loaded with the .303 British cartridge manually from the top, either one round at a time or by means of five-round chargers. The Lee-Enfield was the standard issue weapon to rifle companies of the British Army and other Commonwealth nations in both the First and Second World Wars (these Commonwealth nations included Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, among others). Although officially replaced in the UK with the L1A1 SLR in 1957, it remained in widespread British service until the early/mid-1960s and the 7.62 mm L42 sniper variant remained in service until the 1990s. The Canadian Forces' Rangers Arctic reserve unit still use Enfield No.4 rifles as of 2012, with plans announced to replace the weapons sometime in 2014 or 2015. Total production of all Lee-Enfields is estimated at over 17 million rifles.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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