The Minute Book
Monday, 1 January 2018

CEF Strength in France; 1918
Topic: CEF

CEF Strength in France; 1918

The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1918; by J. Castell Hopkins, FSS, FRGS, pub. Toronto, 1919.

At the beginning of 1918 the Canadian forces in France numbered 140,000 and the 4 Divisions were well up to strength; during the year and until Nov. 30th, reinforcements were sent from England totalling 4,381 officers, 316 Nursing Sisters who ranked as officers, and 76,875 of other ranks at the close of the year (Dec 31st ) there were 6,645 officers and 138,394 of other ranks in France compared with a total for officers and men on Dec. 31st, 1917, of 140,680, in 1916 of 108,703, in 1915 of 52,394.

The total Forces at the beginning of 1918 and at its close were divided as follows:

  • Infantry, 65,812 and 51,828;
  • Artillery, 18,211 and 18,983;
  • Cavalry, 2,717 and 2,832;
  • Engineers, 7,554 and 19,083;
  • Army Service Corps (C.A.S.C.) 5,368 and 5,890;
  • Army Medical Corps (C.A.M.C.) 5,508 and 6,567;
  • Railway Corps, 13,378 and 13,334;
  • Forestry Corps, 9,434 and 11,510;
  • Other Arms 11,728 and 17,062.

As to Casualties, the totals for 1914-18, inclusive, were as follows:

  • killed in action or died of wounds, 50,869;
  • died from other causes, 4,030;
  • missing, 8,119;
  • prisoners of war, 2,818;
  • wounded 149,709.

The total of all casualties was 215,545.

(Footnoted: Of the Missing 7,405 were accounted for up to Dec. 31st, 1918.)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Messenger Dogs and Carrier Pigeons (Germany, 1918)
Topic: CEF

Messenger Dogs and Carrier Pigeons (Germany, 1918)

Military Notes on Training and Instruction, No. 1; Training and Instruction Branch, War Plans Division, General Staff, US Army, Washington, August 1918

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

Detachment of Messenger Dogs.

(From French Military Advisory Mission Bulletin)

This detachment is commanded by a lieutenant, who has charge of the pigeon service at the same time.

The total personnel is about 70.

This detachment at the present time has 26 messenger dogs. Two men are thus assigned to each dog—the man who sends a message and the man receiving it. Except in the case of absolute necessity these men always work with the same dog.

These dogs have charge of the liaisons between the command posts of company commanders, battalion command posts in line or as support (K.T.K. or B.T.K.) and regimental command posts. They maintain liaison for 3 and 4 kilometer distances.

Men and dogs remain about 10 days in the sector and have 20 days' rest—the latter usually spent in training.

Detachment of Carrier Pigeons.

This section is commanded by the same officer who commands the messenger dog detachment.

The personnel includes 1 feldwebel; 5 pigeon attendants (Taubenpfleger) to take care of the pigeons; 5 porters (sometimes more) (Taubentraeger) who carry baskets of pigeons to the various command posts, either in wagons or on their backs.

These pigeons maintain liaisons between battalion and division command posts. Each battalion command post has, almost regularly, at least 4 pigeons. Company command posts are rarely provided with pigeons.

A movable loft is kept near the divisional command post. This is a wagon with one story slightly raised, harnessed to two horses. It can shelter about 150 pigeons, which is the normal allotment per division.

The use of night flying pigeons seems to have been very satisfactory so far.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Sap and the Mine (1915)
Topic: CEF

The Sap and the Mine (1915)

The Illustrated War News, 24 March 1915

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

When the enemy's trenches are only at a distance of a hundred yards or so, real trench-warfare may be said to begin. It is characterised by the making of saps which permit of an advance under cover towards the enemy's lines; and it is then that the sappers play their great part. Every thirty or forty yards the sap-heads are joined by parallels. When the saps are near enough to the enemy to enable him to stop the advance by throwing grenades and bombs on the workers, the sappers start an entrance to a mine-gallery to lead to a mine-chamber for explosives the power of whose charge varies with the depth of the chamber beneath the ground. These chambers are generally placed under a salient, or under points particularly guarded (a fortified house, machine-gun shelter, fortlet, castle, etc.) of the enemy's line. Their number depends on the results to be obtained, and the importance of the action. The explosion of the mine-chambers gives the signal of attack, at the same time as producing craters in the ground, destroying the flanking adjustments of the enemy, and making a breach in the wire-entanglements which protect his front, These craters are immediately occupied and organised, thanks to the surprise-attack, and one or several lines of trenches are sometimes taken.

(Click to expand.)

The method of driving a mine-gallery employed by the Royal Engineers is, briefly, as follows. First, a steel shield is placed over the head of the sap, from beneath which the sapper cuts the earth, inclining his trench downwards. When he has sloped it down to about eight feet, he prepares for mining. He begins by placing a stout timber framework, consisting of a top sill, two side-pieces, and a ground sill, against the face of the earth (now widened to about six feet) and drives heavy sheeting-planks with a maul, to support the earth over his head as he works beneath them, propping them with uprights as he moves forward. The process is repeated as often as necessary. Having thus made a kind of ante-chamber for the collection of gear, pumps, trucks, and so on, he begins to drive the ordinary mining-gallery, either by means of frames and sheeting-planks, as before, or by placing a series of cases like the four sides of a stout box framed together at the angles. The task is extremely trying, as the space within which the miner works measures only four feet in height and two feet in breadth, the light is only that of candles, and the air soon becomes very foul, in spite of fans and bellows. The man at the face, therefore, only works for a short spell. The earth dug out is removed in little handtrucks, and has to be carefully disposed of so as, not to let the enemy get wind that. a mine is in progress. When the gallery has reached the point required near the enemy s trench, a small mine-chamber is driven from it sideways just big enough to contain the charge, the laying of which is always done by an officer. When the box is packed, the electrical fuse is inserted and the insulated cable laid. Then comes the work of "tamping"…i.e., filling up the gallery for some distance with sand-bags, to prevent the explosion from breaking back towards the sappers and to force it to tear its way out through the enemy's trench. If the distance from the mine-chamber to the trench is 15 ft., with 20 ft. of earth overhead, the tamping has to extend for about 30 ft. along the gallery. When all is ready, the mine is fired, and the infantry, with fixed bayonets, dash forward to occupy the crater which the explosion forms.

(Click to expand.)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Multiple Sons in the CEF
Topic: CEF

Multiple Sons in the CEF

The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1917; by J. Castell Hopkins, FSS, FRGS, pub. Toronto, 1918.

A feature of the military life of Canada in this war was the number of families who contributed all their eligible sons three, four and upwards to the Army, with very often the Father also. Reference has been made in preceding volumes to some of the better- known cases; a few more instances may be given here. The six sons of H. O. Bell-Irving of Vancouver all distinguished themselves in different branches of the Service: Lieut. Henry B. Bell-Irving, D.S.C., Dover Patrol; Major Richard Bell-Irving, R.F.C.; Major Fred. Bell-Irving, M.C., 14th Battalion; Capt. M. Bell-Irving, M.C., D.S.O., Royal Flying Corps; Fl. Comm. Duncan Bell-Irving, M.C., and Bar and Croix de Guerre; Lieut. A. Bell-Irving, R.A. The Lieut.-Governor of Nova Scotia, MacCallum Grant, had 5 sons on active service: Lieut. Eric M. Grant, 13th Batt., Capt. Gerald W. Grant, C.A.M.C., Lieut. J.M. Grant, R.C.N., Lieut. G. Grant, V. Battery, Mid'n H. S. W. Grant, R.C.N. The Stair family of Halifax grandsons of Hon. W.J. Stair—included Gavin and George, who were killed, and Herbert and Denis fighting in Flanders during 1917. Major- Gen. S.C. Mewburn, C.M.G., M.P., Minister of Militia, had a son killed in action, 8 nephews and 14 cousins on active service. The family of the late Thomas Brown, Toronto, had 24 members in the Army, of whom one was the late Lieut. G.A. Ewens and another Major Howard Jeffs, M.C. Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Sullivan of Winnipeg boasted 3 sons and 4 sons-in-law on active service; J.G. Cosgrove of Winnipeg had 3 sons at the Front and with them were 9 cousins— all of Manitoba; Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Glenday of Toronto had 12 sons or nephews on service.

The following statement compiled from all parts of Canada further illustrates this point

ParentResidenceNo. of Sons on Service
Eustace CollinsMontreal8
Thomas O'Shaughnessy 5
Mr. Mawhinney 8
James Barnard (Father and 3 Sons)
Mrs. M. Morrison 4
Corp. James Murdock (Father and 3 Sons)
Charles CushingWestmount5
Donald McDonaldToronto7
J.E. Boswell 4
Mrs. Priscilla Hay 4
Philip W. Moore 4
William Cooper 4
Pte. H. Marshall (Father and 3 Sons)
Pte. John Parm (Father and 3 Sons)
John Daly 4
Mrs. David AshdownEast Toronto7
John A. LongOttawa6
Mrs. McColl 4
A. DobbieVictoria4
Sergt. F.J. Barker (Father and 3 Sons)
Sergt. J.A. Kenning (Father and 6 Sons)
Mrs. N. Pellow 4
S. N. Reid 4
Capt. A. G. Sargison (Father and 3 Sons)
Mrs. Malcolm 4
J. K. NichollHalifax4
J.W. Nicoll 4
Mrs. Annie Ambrose 4
John SimpsonWinnipeg5
G. H. Heath 5
Arthur J. HebbLunenburg5
Mrs. Letitia Meister 5
Mrs. L. KendallVancouver4
William Tough (Father and 3 Sons)
Thomas Campbell 5
S. G. Ball 10
Mr. WattsSouth Vancouver(Father and 7 Sons)
L. G. DoidgeNorth Vancouver4
Pte. Charles E.G. AdamsKelowna, B.C.(Father and 4 Sons)
Pte. M. A. Berard (Father and 3 Sons)
Thomas HillColdwater5
John EnnisAyr, Ont4
John McLeanSydney, C.B4
Mrs. Solomon MatthewsSt. John's4
James W. MacintoshNew Glasgow5
Robert MathersClaburn, B.C(Father and 8 Sons)
Miles SimpsonShoal Lake4
Ernest GrattoTruro, N.S6
Hugh RobertsonVerdun, Que5
Lieut. Seymour GreeneDuncan, B.C(Father and 5 Sons)
Mr. SleightTisdale, Sask4
Pte. George P. KennedyPilot Mound(Father and 3 Sons)
J. B. CarruthersKingston4
Mrs. A. ColburneCumberland, N.S6
Thomas BoveyGananoque5
M. ThorsteinsonSturgeon Creek, Man.4
Mrs. J. LeavittVerdun. Que4
Mrs. A. D. TelferEdmonton4
J.W. MacDonaldPortage la Prairie4
Mrs. J. F. RichardsonMaitland, Ont4
H. RathboneGrand Mere, Que5
G. D. CampbellWeymouth, N.S.6

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2017 10:05 AM EDT
Saturday, 29 April 2017

Canadian Initiatives in the First World War
Topic: CEF

Canadian Initiatives in the First World War

The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1918; by J. Castell Hopkins, FSS, FRGS, pub. Toronto, 1919.

As a Corps the Canadians were very seldom defeated or held up—at Passchendaele they had to make three attempts and success came in the third attack but this was a rare exception. As to initiative, F. D. L. Smith of the Toronto News, recorded (Sept. 10th, 1918) a series of incidents showing Canadian adaptability in various important matters:

(1)     They were the first to construct light railways behind the firing line, to use this means of transportation in conveying troops, munitions and supplies to the trenches, as well as in carrying wounded to the rear.

(2)     They were the first to lay down plank roads in order to carry heavy trucks and guns through the quagmires of Flanders and France.

(3)     They were the first to substitute temporary, lightly constructed waggon roads in place of the permanent highways in favour with the other Allies.

(4)     They were the first to originate trench raids for the purpose of breaking the enemy's morale, and obtaining necessary information regarding his forces.

(5)     They were the first to organize machine-gun batteries and to use machine-guns in indirect fire that is to say against invisible objects.

(6)     They were the first to combat the disease known as trench-feet with any considerable success and they invented the alkali bath to neutralize the poisonous effects of mustard gas.

(7)     They were the first of all the Allied armies to establish a Dental Corps, and as a result of this the dental health of the Canadian Army was of the highest character.

(8)     They were the first to introduce a de-lousing plant to rid soldiers' clothing of insects.

(9)     The Canadian Army Intelligence Department proved a model for others, and Canadian intelligence officers were called to reorganize departments of some of the armies on the Western and Italian fronts.

(10)     Canadians introduced a watch repair department, so that the tens of thousands of wrist watches worn by officers and men did not have to go to England for repair.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 17 April 2017

Soldiers Gratuities (1920)
Topic: CEF

Soldiers Gratuities

The Montreal Gazette, 24 March 1920

In a recent article dealing with the provision which has been made, and is still being made, for returned soldiers by the Canadian Government and Parliament, the statement was made that the liberality of re-establishment measures adopted in this country has not been approached by any other of the nations which took part in the war. In support of that assertion there was submitted a comparative statement of gratuities granted to returned soldiers in Canada, Great Britain, the United States, Australia and new Zealand. The figures then quoted represented correctly the situation as it existed in September [1919], when the facts referred to were placed before Parliament. Since that time, both Australia and New Zealand have substantially increased their gratuities. The effect has not been to place the Australian and new Zealand scale upon an equity with the Canadian scale, Canada still holding the undisputed first place as regards the amount given, just as Canada was the first country definitely to outline a system of was service gratuity at all. In order, however, that no injustice may be done to the other Dominions, the increased Australian and New Zealand gratuities have been included in the statement given below. The rates compared are those paid to privates, who are the great majority of recipients, base upon three years' service:

  • United Kingdom,
    • with or without dependents, overseas service, $82.73;
    • home, $53.53.
  • Australia,
    • without dependents, overseas service, $273.82;
    • with dependents, $289.35.
  • United States,
    • with or without dependents, overseas service, $60.00.
  • Canada,
    • without dependents, overseas service, $420.00;
    • home service, $210;
    • with dependents, overseas, $600.00;
    • home, $300.
  • New Zealand,
    • without dependents, overseas service, $427.80;
    • with dependents, overseas service, $447.96.

In Great Britain and in Australia, the gratuity is increased proportionately for periods of service exceeding three years. In the case of new Zealand, also, it is possible for a soldier to draw a larger amount than that given as the three year total, payment being made at a rate of one shilling and sixpence per day of service, calculated from the day of embarkation of the New Zealand main body, September 23, 1914, and up to the time of demobilization, June 20, 1919, a total possible period of four years and 278 days.

Of the Australian gratuity $175.20 is payable in 5¼% bonds only, the balance (about $100) being payable in cash. It has been claimed that as the Australian and New Zealand private received a larger payment while on active service than his brother from Canada, this more than made up for the lesser gratuity. The Australian private received 6s. per day as against the Canadian $1.10. This placed the single Australian at an advantage, but the married man was at a considerable disadvantage, as the pay and allowances to a married man were $53.40 against $63 in the case of a Canadian. In the ranks above private, when the pay reached $2.40 per day, no separation allowance was payable.

The New Zealand private received 5s per day and there appears to have been a small separation allowance. An allowance of 1s 6d per day for each child, up to three children, was made. Allowances for children were not issued by the Canadian Government, but this matter was placed in the hands of the Canadian Patriotic Fund. While this fund was largely voluntary, except in the case of Manitoba, it was virtually added taxation. The extra allowance issued by the Canadian Patriotic Fund equaled and, in some cases, exceeded the allowances issued by the New Zealand Government, the New Zealand authorities granted 28 days' post discharge pay to all returned soldiers, and the value of this has been included in the amounts set down as gratuity. The value of what is termed "the railway concessions" has not been included. A returned New Zealand soldier is granted free passage over the Government railways for 28 days, and this is claimed to represent an extra gratuity of $28.80, but it is doubtful whether many men availed themselves of this privilege.

One feature of the Australian, which goes a little beyond the Canadian, is that 7½ days pay of rank for each six months of service, plus sustenance allowance, is granted to the dependents of deceased soldiers.

On the whole, however, the Canadian scale will stand as the most liberal of all, and, so far as the gratuity itself is concerned, it will be very difficult to make out a case for raising the amount. Canada has sought to do justly and generously by the soldier and has good reasons to be satisfied with the result.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 9 April 2017

40 Years Ago Today Canadians Took Vimy (1957)
Topic: CEF

40 Years Ago Today Canadians Took Vimy (1957)

Ottawa Citizen, 9 April 1957
By David McIntosh, Canadian Press Staff Writer

April 9, 1917, was Easter Monday.

On that day in France Zero Hour was 5:30 a.m. Sleet swept over the countryside, changing to blinding snow as that bloody day of glory wore on.

Under a thunderous barrage by 983 field, heavy and siege guns, the men crawled out of their shell holes, tunnels and trenches and swept forward through the mud, wire and murderous chatter of the machine-guns.

The Canadian Corps did not halt until it had captured Vimy Ridge. The Ridge never fell from Allied hands during the rest of the First World War.

Forever Canada

In fact, 248 acres of the Ridge remain forever Canada. This plot on Hill 145 was ceded to Canada in perpetuity by the French nation. On it, July 26, 1936, in the presence of 8,000 Canadians, King Edward VIII unveiled the Vimy Memorial on which are inscribed, in English and French, these words:

"To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their 60,000 dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada”

Vimy Ridge forms a barrier nine miles long across the western edge of the Douai Plain. The northern end rises abruptly to a height or 200 feet. Southwards, the main body of the Ridge rises another 150 feet to the main summit, Hill 145.

The French tried to retake Vimy in December, 1914, and failed. They tried again with 18 Divisions—more than 250,000 me—in the spring of 1915 and were repulsed again, suffering 100,000 casualties in six weeks while inflicting 80,000 casualties on the Germans.

Fall Third Time

In the fall of 1915 the French tried yet again to take Vimy. They advanced only 200 yards and suffered 40,000 casualties.

The Canadian Corps took over the sector in the fall of 1916. In January. 1917, elaborate preparations began for an Allied spring offensive.

The frontage of the Canadian Corps for the attack on Vimy was 7,000 yards. Across this whole front, to a depth of 700 yards, the German field works comprised three lines of trenches protected by dense belts of barbed wire. Behind this was another network of trenches and wire linking concrete machine-gun forts and on the crest were more belts of wire.

There were 97,184 Canadians in the Corps. The four Canadian divisions faced six German divisions on the Ridge.

Heavy Bombardment

The artillery bombardment before the assault lasted two weeks. Never before had the Canadians engaged in such a set-piece attack. Under Corps Commander Lt.-Gen. Sir Julian Byng (later Baron Byng of Vimy, Governor General of Canada), a full-scale plan of the battlefield was laid out in the rear area on which the troops rehearsed repeatedly.

The Canadians, on 9 April, downed a tot of rum and went over the top.

Across the mass of shell holes, craters and churned mud of No Man's Land they swept in wave afater wave. Despite the terrible bombardment, the Germans fought doggedly and many had to be killed in hand-to-hand fighting.

In 35 minutes, the 1st Division under maj.-Gen. Arthur Currie (later Gen. Sir Arthur Currie) had carried its first objective.

The 2nd Division (Maj.-Gen. E.H. Burstall) and 3rd Division (Maj.-Gen. L.J. Lipsett) had equal success.

Suffer Heavily

Hill 145 was taken by the 4th Division (Maj.-Gen. D. Watson) after first being checked by machine-gun fire and suffering heavily. Consolidation of the position proceeded through April 10 and two days later The Pimple, last feature on Vimy held by the Germans, was carried by the 10th Brigade.

The Canadian suffered 11,297 casualties. Of these, one third were killed and one-third were knocked out of the war.

The is no record of total German casualties but two German divisions lost more than 3,000 men each.

The importance of the Canadian capture of Vimy did not become wholly apparent until the great German offensive in the spring of 1918. Vimy, held by the Canadians, was the only part of the Allied line between Rhiems and Ypres, a distance of 125 miles, which did not yeild.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:07 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2017 12:08 AM EDT
Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Canadians Succeed in Seven Dashing Raids
Topic: CEF

Canadians Succeed in Seven Dashing Raids

Rain, Hail and Steel Fail to Check Minor Operations—Number of Prisoners Taken, and Counter-Attacks Easily Beaten Off

To these daring raids the only reply of the enemy has been a few feeble counter-attacks. On no occasion have our trenches been occupied.

The Toronto World, 5 April 1917

London, April 4.—The following communique, issued by the Canadian war records office, covers activities of the Canadian Corps from March 25 to April 1:

A year ago the proportion of rain, hail and sleet which has been experienced during the last week on the Canadian corps front would have been said to have brought operations almost to a standstill. Nowadays weather has little effect on minor operations. There are no "quiet" days in the old sense of the term. The old stagnation of trench warfare is disappearing. Almost nightly there are raids on one or the other part of the front. The enemy is given no peace. Our artillery pound his defences and communication trenches night and day unceasingly. When his is not being raided by night our patrols are continually searching No Man's Land, often reaching the enemy's wire and trenches and bringing back valuable information as to the state of his defence and his methods of holding the line.

Carry Our Seven Raids

The records of minor operations carried out since last Sunday includes seven raids in all. As usual, a number of prisoners were taken.

One night and early one morning small parties of a certain famous regiment crossed No Man's Land and entered the enemy's lines. On both occasions much damage was done to dugouts and defences, and in a second raid a German post was driven from its position in a crater. Our men occupied the post for a short time, inflicting heavy casualties on the retreating enemy with their own bombs which they had left behind in their hurry to get away.

Another evening a raid was carried out. A party went over to the enemy's trenches, and finding the line strongly held, proceeded to drive him into his support line. In the process five Huns were captured and the usual ruin was made of his dugouts and defences.

The enemy retaliation for this little enterprise was not long delayed, and unfortunately one of their shells caught three of the prisoners and their escort on the way back to our lines.

On another occasion we drove an enemy post from its advanced position in a crater. In their counter-attack the enemy suffered heavy losses from our accurate Lewis machine gun fire.

The first raid in April was responsible for the capture of some prisoners. Nine dugouts which were known to be occupied were bombed. In addition many dead were seen in the enemy's lines.

To these daring raids the only reply of the enemy has been a few feeble counter-attacks. On no occasion have our trenches been occupied.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 16 March 2017

Sir Sam Foresaw Need of Trenches
Topic: CEF

Sir Sam Foresaw Need of Trenches

Tells U.E. Loyalists He Recommended Siege Warfare in Germany Made War

The Toronto World, 16 March 1917

Disclosures hitherto unrevealed because of his official connection with the government as Canadian minister of militia and interesting information bearing upon his activities in that post were made by General Sir Sam Hughes in a review of practically all pertinent phases of Canada's part in the war in an address before members of the Toronto branch of the United Empire Loyalists in the Arts Association Building, 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, last night.

The most interesting perhaps was his revelation of a midnight meeting shortly after England declared war on Germany when Premier Borden called at Sir Sam's rooms in Ottawa.

"The prime minister was depressed with the news and asked my opinion," Sir Sam said, "I told him we were going to get the worst confounded licking and would be smashed if we didn't hold the line. Sometime previously I had taken with other Canadian officers what my critics chose to call a "junketing tour," in which I went abroad. I was the only colonel at an important war conference when Germany's plan of invading France was suspected and discussed. I recommended that trench warfare on a thirty mile front be adopted if Germany started. I said that an attempt to advance against german trained troops would be bordering on insanity. So when the prime minister had discussed the war as it was in the early stages with me I sent a cablegram to Lord Kitchener and Sir John French recommending my opinion again. But it was too late. The British and French had been pushed back to the Marne."

General Hughes declared that returned soldiers should not be pampered, but instead treated like men and given positions through government aid. He attributed present Canadian prosperity to the organization of the Canadian shell committee, which he first proposed and credited to Col. Thomas Cantley of new Glasgow, N.S., and himself with averting national bankruptcy in 1914.

The speaker attacked the so-called "labor shortage" belief, declaring that the agitation was due to influences working with German money. He said 1,000,000 single men in Canada were eligible for service and should be forced to the front. He justified his elimination of red tape while militia minister, complimented the valor of Canadian troops, and attributed much of the success of the militia department to the women of Canada.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bombing; Fiendish Way of Fighting (1916)
Topic: CEF

Fiendish Way of Fighting

Some of the Terrors and Humors of the Bomb

The Kingsville Reporter, Kingsville, Ontario, 22 June 1916

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

An Irish officer, writing from the British Front in Flanders about bombs and bomb-throwing contrivances, says:

The more you have to do with the bombs the more afraid of them you become, for you cannot play with explosives all day without going aloft sooner or later. The toll of good men who have been blown to pieces by their own bombs is long and sad.

Bomb-throwing as an art is still in its infancy; it changes almost from day to day. At best, it is a fiendish way of fighting, for it inflicts ghastly injuries.

Yet bombing, like many other aspects of the war, has its humorous side, and I have seen a whole trench helpless with laughter at the sight of two men running opposite ways to avoid a sausage bomb from a German trench mortar. They collided, and sat down facing each other, like vaudeville comedians. The bomb dropped between them, almost touching them both—and then failed to explode.

One morning twenty or more members of the general staff came round to our trench to witness a test of new catapult for throwing bombs to distance of two hundred and fifty yards. With great interest they watches the screwing down of the great arm and the fastening of the bomb in position. Then upward and forward swung the arm; but the missile, not having been properly secured, instead of hurtling in the direction of the enemy, rose gently a few feet into the air, and then turning to descend again into the trench.

Such a rapid and complete disappearance of staff officers had never before been seen. They fled like rabbits, and as they rounded the corner of the trench, the bomb went off a few feet from the ground, completely destroying the catapult.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Birds Sing Gaily Over the Trenches
Topic: CEF

Birds Sing Gaily Over the Trenches, Despite Gunfire

Soldiers Feed Plucky Songsters as Well as Great Variety of Pets Kept in Dugouts

The Windsor Evening Record, Windsor, Ontario, 3 March 1917

Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.

With the British Armies in France, March 1.—One of the distinct surprises to the newcomer at the war is to find larks singing over the front line trenches. One would think that birds of every sort had long since been driven far from the war zones, but, instead, they lurk in and about in great numbers. Very often the sudden flight of a covey from as secluded thicket or remnant of wood has given the first signal of a shrapnel attack.

The drumming of big guns, the "pat-pat-patter-patter-patter" of machine guns, the whirr and "bang" of "plum puddings" and "run jars" sent over by the enemy trench mortars, seen to have lost all terror to the feathered songsters. The chirp as gaily and loudly over the muddy "line" as if there was no such thing in all the world as war.

The British Tommy is very fond of pets. When he can safely do so he throws crumbs over the parapet for the larks, and if he had his way he would fill up every nook and corner of the trench with some sort of animal mascot. As it is, there is a strange mixture of pets and pests in these deep cuttings in the earth—the outposts of battle—where the men themselves live a sort of animal life. It is a life no human being was ever intended to live, and yet the health of the troops is positively amazing.

Rat Is Premier Pest

Of all the trench pests the rat, of course, by reason of his size, takes precedence. He is everywhere. No amount of cleaning up has tended to wipe him out. In fact he waxes fatter and fatter as the war goes on.

Of the pets the dog is by far the most numerous and popular. There are goats and cats and canaries and various species of mascot, but the dog becomes more a part of the life than any of the others.

Many a subaltern of company commander has gone "over the top" into battle with his dog leaping and barking happily beside him. Scores of dogs have been killed beside their masters and hundreds wounded. In the fighting about mametz, during the great "push" on the Somme, a Red Cross searching party came upon a pathetic little group composed of a subaltern his dog and four private soldiers, just as they had sprawled to their death in a burst of machine gun fire.

The dogs in the trenches have great fun chasing rats. They will even leap over the parapet after them into "No Man's Land." And sometimes old "Fritz" from the enemy trenches will snipe them. There is one old terrier now in the front line who has been wounded four times. If he survives this war, this old veteran is going to have a collar with four gold stripes on it.

Work of Red Cross Dogs

The Red Cross Dogs of the French hardly come under the head of pets. They are a lasting tribute to the part dumb animals have played, and are playing in the great world conflict. The dogs, however, render a service scarcely more notable than the little French donkeys that carry ammunition to the front line trenches. These little burros are as wise as they are grey. Their long straight ears, always poking forward, are attuned to the sounds of battle, and when the firing gets too heavy they dart for the shelter of shell holes and lie there with the drivers until danger temporarily is past.

Some of the strangest animals of the war are the wild cats of Ypres. The old mother and father cats of Ypres were once domesticated. But when the frightened population fled at the first bombardment, the cats, true to all cat traditions, remained behind. Now Ypres is a wilderness of ruins, and all cats born and living there have become like wild animals.

Lion Cub Is Pet

A Canadian sergeant-major came marching out of the "line" a few days ago with a magpie sitting on his shoulder. A private in the same company had a kitten curled up on the top of his knapsack. All the overseas troops bring mascots with them. The South Africans started out with as great collection of springboks, baboons, duikers, but the climate of northern France in winter mood is far from friendly, and the warm weather pets have mostly been "done in."

Probably the most amazing of all war pets, however, was the lion cub adopted by the American in the French aviation service. They read in a Paris paper that a "perfect dear of a cub" was for sale and promptly sent emissaries in to buy it. They said when it grew up they were going to drop it in the German lines, but it was spoiled by being pampered.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Canadians Excel in Raiding
Topic: CEF

Canadians Excel in Raiding and Trench Warfare

Official Statement From War Records Office Praises the men
Sneak on Huns
And Then With Bombs or Bayonets They Make Short Work of Enemy

The Montreal Daily Mail, 7 February 1917
(Canadian Press Despatch)

London, Feb. 6—The following communique was issued by the Canadian War Office Records to-day.

The Canadians have not been slow to take advantage of the hard weather which has made the ground, hitherto waterlogged, comparatively easy to move over. The German trenches have been entered on no less than four occasions by parties of various sizes. A number of prisoners have been taken and severe casualties inflicted on the enemy.

One daring little enterprise was carried out on a bright, starlit night. The raiders, dressed in white canvas to render themselves invisible as possible against the snow, crossed to within 10 yards of an enemy post without being detected. When the German sentry eventually did detect his assailants it was too late. The post, a particularly strong one, was rushed and the defenders quickly taken care of.

Take Many Prisoners

Another operation on a rather larger scale was carried out one morning by an Edmonton battalion. Two parties, each under an officer, stormed the enemy's trenches under cover of a bombardment. Many prisoners were taken and all dug-outs in the neighborhood were destroyed before the raiders returned. The excellent operation was carried out with a loss of two men slightly wounded.

By no means the least satisfactory feature of these raids which have been carried out so frequently is the remarkably few losses which our troops have suffered in their execution and of the many useful purposes they serve. The two most important are the wearing down of the enemy's morale by keeping him in a constant state of nervous expectation and the experience our men gain in what is known as "going over the parapet,' or in other words getting accustomed to the element of uncertainty which most men feel in crossing "No Man's Land' to the attack for the first time.

Have Established a Record

Canadian raiding exploits are well-known and in capturing 200 prisoners during the last three months of purely defensive warfare our troops have made ready for themselves a record of which they may justly be proud.

No other events of interest have occurred during the past week. Hard frost has prevailed and while this makes life in the trenches more rigorous the temporary absence of mud is a source of satisfaction.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 5 January 2017

Uncle Sam Claims Man Among Canadian Ranks
Topic: CEF

Uncle Sam Claims Man Among Canadian Ranks

Jackson Says He's American—Joins British—Now Draft Boards Want Him

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 26 September 1917

Is Daniel Roy Jackson an American or a Canadian?

This what members of the exemption board of local district No. 2 and officers of the British recruiting mission in Spokane would like to have settled.

On August 9 Jackson—ideal soldier material, being 28, single and without dependents—was examined before the board of local district No. 2, at which time, according to Chairman J.C. Argall, he declared he was born at Douglas, Wyoming.

He failed to respond to his draft call, however, and an investigation today revealed that on August 21 Jackson enlisted here with the British recruiting mission for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, under the representation that he had been born in Calgary, Alberta.

"This case is a puzzler," today said Mr. Argall. "I presume that if it is found that Jackson is an American, as he told us he was, he is likely to be surrendered by the Canadian army officials to be drafted into the American army, but I am not sure.

"I am sending all my information in the matter to the adjutant general, whose office can unscramble the mix-up."

elipsis graphic

A Soldier of the CEF

As it turned out, Daniel Roy Jackson served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His entry in the Library and Archives Canada database of Soldiers of the First World War includes a link to the surviving pages of his service record.

Jackson served in France with the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion. he joined the battalion on 2 March 1918 and was attached to the 6th Canadian Light Trench Mortar Battery, to which he was formally transferred on 11 July 1918. Jackson returned to Canada and was discharged from the CEF at Quebec on 28 August 1918. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 25 December 2016

His Majesty's Message; 25 Dec 1916
Topic: CEF

His Majesty's Message; 25 Dec 1916

Montreal Daily Mail, 25 Dec 1916

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 24 December 2016

Trench Raiding
Topic: CEF

Trench Raiding

Canadians From Alberta and Plains prove Adepts in New Methods of Trench Warfare

The Deseret News, 25 December 1916
(From a Staff Correspondent of the Associated Press.)

With the British armies in France, Dec. 24, via London, Dec. 25.—North of Arras certain Canadian troops have just accomplished what the British officers declare marks a new phase in modern trench warfare. In a raid, which however, was much more than a raid, they succeeded in putting out of action, temporarily at least, an entire battalion of German infantry. They took 59 prisoners, including one commissioned officer and estimated that they killed 150 Germans in dugouts which were blown to atoms after their occupants refused to surrender. The Canadian losses were extremely light. The "raid" took place at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on a front of 100 yards. The German prisoners admit that they were taken completely by surprise. The officer captured said he was convinced that something was about to happen but believed that the attack was coming on Christmas eve. He reported to the higher command but received no support.

The Canadians, mostly stalwart men from the plains of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, had skilfully established themselves well forward so that when the artillery had ceased the preparatory fire they were in the German front line trenches in less than two minutes. The officer in command, who was reporting the raid to Brigade headquarters by telephone, said that he had hardly uttered the words, "they're off" before he had to say "they're in." Consternation reigned among the Germans who scrambled for the saps and dugouts leading to rear trenches while the Canadians pelted them with hand grenades.

Caught unprepared, many Germans in the front line offered no resistance but threw up their hands with cried of "Kamerad!" Others were taken as they fled for the second and third lines for the Canadians pushed on quickly to the second trenches.

About 20 dugouts were destroyed by Canadians, several with bombs captured from the Germans. One of the officers engaged said:

"As we entered the trenches many Germans broke for the dugouts. All who did were subsequently well cared for. Each of our men was given definite instructions for his precise task and a map of the enemy's trenches which proved correct. Each man knew every detail of the proposed operation. They were delighted at this and entered the fight with great cheers. When they came out two hours later they were singing and as happy as school boys on a holiday. The neatness despatch with which the raid was carried out were unique. The artillery co-operation of the British guns was perfection. Beautifully placed curtains of fire prepared our advance and, crossing forward, protected us as they proceeded to absolutely demolish the enemy trenches and dugouts. The program had given the men an hour and a half for their work but the cleanup was accomplished in an hour and ten minutes and the raiders signalled they were ready to return to their own trenches."

No attempt was made at a counter attack until the following night, when the Germans bombarded and raided their own front line, or what was left of it, thinking that the raiders were still there. As a matter of fact the Canadians who carried out the operations were miles away. They were not part of the fighting line but on rest, and had gone forward for this particular piece of work, which was planned weeks ago.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 23 December 2016

Xmas Invasion of Britain
Topic: CEF

Xmas Invasion of Britain by Soldiers' Wives

Missanabie Took Hundreds of Canadian Women To See Their Husbands

Montreal Daily Mail, 25 Dec 1916
(Canadian Associated Press)

London, Dec. 23.—Animated scenes were witnessed at Liverpool when the Canadian pacific steamer Missanabie arrived. She is the Canadian Christmas boat and brought over hundreds of women and children desirous of spending Xmas with their husbands and brothers in training in Britain or on leave from the front.

Of 340 cabin passengers, only forty-three were men, with practically an all Canadian list, the majority having come from all parts of the Dominion, women from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, Yukon. The majority had never seen England before. From Liverpool the train carried them to London and the various Canadian camps and hospitals scattered throughout Britain.

This unique invasion steamer also brought a big mail and a huge consignment of Xmas parcels for boys in training in Britain and at the front. An official stated that the Canadian mail and parcels received this year were of record proportions. In one week the mail despatched from Montreal included over 800,000 parcels. Two Canadian Pacific steamers recently brought between them 20,000 bags of mail and parcels.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Rules to be Observed; Parcels to POWs
Topic: CEF

Rules to be Observed in Remitting parcels, &c., to Prisoners of War

Local Postmaster Tells How To Go About the Task

… must not be included in any parcel … tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

The South Shore News, St. Lambert, Quebec, 8 November 1917

As there appears to be some confusion in the minds of many relatives and friends of German prisoners of war in Germany as to the sending of parcels to such prisoners, The South Shore |news has obtained from Mr. John H. Horsfall (postmaster) the following information:—

Parcels may be sent direct to officers who are interned in Germany, but in the case of privates they must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. Parcels addressed to privates or to non-commissioned officers in care of the Canadian Red Cross must not contain foodstuffs of any kind, clothing or printed matter. There is, in fact, very little except tobacco that can be sent direct to privates who are prisoners. In the case of tobacco, too, it is well to remember that the regulations forbid "tins which cannot be conveniently opened for inspection." Clothing and food may be sent direct to officers, but the following articles must not be included in any parcel sent to any prisoner interned in a belligerent country; written communications (letters must be sent separately by letter post), printed matter, money, stationery, stamps, playing cards, textiles, including wool, cotton, leather, rubber (except clothing in the case of officers), tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

Parcels for privates (which parcels must not contain foodstuffs, clothing or other articles in the above list) must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. The address should be in the following form:

No. 12345

Pte A.G. Robinson
48th Highlanders, Canadian Contingent, B.E.F.
Canadian Prisoner of War
Gottingen, Germany

c/o Prisoners of War Department
Canadian Red Cross Society
London, England.

Persons desiring to have food or articles of clothing sent to a Canadian prisoner of war belonging to the Canadian contingent, should send money for the purpose to the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England. The remittance should be in the form of a post office money order drawn in favor of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England, for the prisoner of war in question. The letter containing such a remittance should be addressed to the prisoner of war, care of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross, London, and if so addressed may be sent free of charge.

Letters, postcards, parcels and money orders addressed to prisoners of war (including British civilians interned in enemy countries) may be sent free of all postal charges.

Remittance of money may be sent direct to prisoners of war, and should be made by means of post office money orders, which are issued free of commission. The transmission of coin, either in letters or parcels, is prohibited. Information and advice with regard to British (including Canadian) prisoners of war may be obtained from the Central Prisoners of war Committee, 4 Thurloe Place, London, S.W. England, or from any post office.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 13 November 2016

Enemy Guns, Aircraft, etc., Coming to Canada
Topic: CEF

Enemy Guns, Aircraft, etc., Coming to Canada

Quebec Telegraph, 19 August 1919

It is stated in the Overseas Minister of Militia's report in connection with the allocation of war trophies captured by the Canadian troops, to the Dominion, that the Canadian war trophies may be classified under three heads:

  • Guns, machine guns, tanks, etc.
  • Smaller articles of interest to war museums, such as german equipment, armour, shells, shell cases, munitions, etc.
  • War aeroplanes and aeronautical equipment.

These trophies which will be shopped to Canada, include 107 field guns, 19 trench mortars, 248 machine guns, a large number of German aeroplanes, including 21 Fokker, 39 various other types of enemy aircraft, and 5 Gothas; many thousands German rifles, bayonets, grenades, uniforms, insignia, equipment of all kinds. All war trophies captured by Canadian troops became the property of Canadian Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 30 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 5)
Topic: CEF

Lieutenant Mitchell Tells Results of British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 27 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

It has been stated that there are aliens in the United States of ages specified in the selective draft act. Owing to the fact that treaties are in effect between the United States and the various foreign countries, none of these aliens who have not taken out their first papers can be taken for service in the United States and at the present time laws do not provide for the conscription of these aliens by their own government.

Owing to the fact that men are urgently required at the front at the present time, the United States government has been kind to permit the British and Canadian governments to establish a recruiting mission in this country for the purpose of enlisting these men voluntarily. In response to the appeal sent out by the British-Canadian Recruiting mission, a large number of men have come forwarded and enlisted in the armies of their native country. A statement a week ago from headquarters of the mission in New York city, said that 15 regiments had been recruited since the mission was established in July. The number of recruits obtained in this country depends almost entirely on the attitude of the American people and the amount of help they are willing to give the mission.

The people of Spokane and of the Inland Empire should appreciate that whenever a British or Canadian is exempted on account of the fact that he is an alien, it simply means that an American must be called to take hi place and fight his battles. While the British alien is under a double obligation, first to his native country and next to the United States, at the present time he cannot be compelled to go unless it is by the weight of public opinion, which will not tolerate slackers.

In Spokane county alone there have already been exempted 52 aliens and this has meant that 52 young Americans have had to step forward and serve in their places. The British-Canadian Recruiting mission wishes to ask the people of Spokane if they will not insist that the aliens who are slackers shall serve. If these Canadian and British aliens do not wish to return to serve in their own country, the British and American governments are quite willing that they serve in the United States forces and all recruiting agents have been informed of this fact.

Since the recruiting mission was opened at W603 Sprague avenue, in August of this year, the number of men enlisted run well into the hundreds. Many of these are at the present training in England and probably some are in the trenches. A large proportion of these have gone into the Canadian infantry which is the only branch of the Canadian army open for voluntary enlistment at the present time, and the rest have gone into the Canadian navy and into all branches of the British army.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 29 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 4)
Topic: CEF

"Trench Raids" Is the Topic of Recruiting Officer in Today's Article

Lieutenant J.H. Mitchell
Officer in Charge British-Canadian Recruiting Office in Spokane

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 26 November 1917

Richard Holt (2015) British Blood Calls British Blood The British-Canadian Recruiting Mission of 1917-1918, Canadian Military History: Vol. 22: Iss. 1, Article 4.

One of the most interesting and important minor operations is known as the "trench raid." A trench raid in its perfected state was first carried out by the 7th British Columbia Battalion at the famous Messines Ridge, early in 1915, and since that time these raids are carried out nightly by the opposing forces on the western front.

A trench raid is made for three purposes—all of which may be combined at one time. First, it is made to obtain prisoners as a means of identifying what hostile forces are holding the lines; secondly, to destroy any special troublesome enemy positions, and thirdly, to demoralize and break down the morale of the troops holding the position. When the Germans first raided trenches held by the American troops, they had probably the first idea in view, and in this they were successful. However, we may expect to hear at any day that the American soldiers have played the same trick on the Germans and probably with much greater success.

After the Canadians succeeded in the first trench raid, the method was adopted by both the British and French armies. Marshal Joffre mentioned this raid in his orders of the day as an example of how such an operation should be carried on. It has been the practice with the allies to have those raids carried out by practically every infantry battalion and they have been very successful. The German adaptation of the trench raid has been characteristic of his whole method of war. He has not been able to rely upon his ordinary troops to furnish raiding parties, and so has selected especially trained men and formed them into what is known as "storm troops." These are not used for ordinary trench duty but are moved from point to point to carry out a raid and thus to stiffen the back bone of the German troops holding that sector.

The trench raid, as usually carried out by the allies, is a very elaborate affair, calling for the closest cooperation of the infantry and artillery, and is undertaken after a period of intensive training for that purpose. After the point at which the raid is to take place has been determined, exact models of German trenches are laid out on the training grounds on which the enemy trenches are located. These trenches are laid out from photographs taken from aeroplanes.

After training has been completed in these trenches and every man is familiar with the part which he is to play, the party is then transferred to the trenches and the actual raid takes place. The raid is usually preceded by the artillery shelling the enemy's line at various places so that he will not be aware of which point the raid will take place and so that he will not be especially aroused by artillery fire directed against his position. The wire is usually cut either by this artillery fire or by fire from the trench mortars. At the moment the attacking party leaves their trenches, the artillery lay down a barrage of shells on both sides and behind, the object being to cut off the enemy in that sector from support. The attacking party then storm the trench, taking prisoners and machine guns and destroying dugouts, and killing many of the enemy who refuse to surrender. The operation is usually successful and with small loss to the raiding party, as from the time they leave their own trenches only a few moments elapse before they return with the prisoners.

In many particulars the German is a very fine soldier, but he often fails completely when called upon to act on his own initiative when he is not under the command of his officers, and this has been responsible for the failure of a great many German raids. It is naturally expected that the American troops in France will prove themselves expert in this form of fighting. The success of an operation of this kind depends largely upon the capability and resoluteness of each man employed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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