Topic: The RCR
Hughes, The RCR, and Bermuda
Debates of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, Vol;. CXX, 1915
The following is a statement by Major General Sam Hughes in the House of Commons on 25 March, 1915:—
"I have been charged with being unfriendly to the permanent corps. What I have done is see that the permanent corps get no favour over the militia corps. We are all the active militia of Canada. But when the war broke out it was my desire that the Royal Canadian Regiment should not go to the front as a unit but that some of the non-commissioned officers and certain of the officers of this corps should be distributed among the other regiments in order to give them the benefit of their training, because they are simply instructional corps. However, about this time the British Government—there is no harm in saying it—requested that we should send the Royal Canadian Regiment to Bermuda and release the Lincolnshire regiment then garrisoning Bermuda. We got the order, we recruited the regiment up to full strength by the addition of 400 or 500 men, and in four days that regiment was sailing for Bermuda, a feat of which my officers are very proud. They are there yet. If the British Government want them at the front all they have to do is ask them to go to the front and I am sure the Government of Canada would be only too pleased to accede to the request. From time to time and personally against the judgment of the regularly trained officers of the department I have been endeavouring to pick out some of these good fellows from that regiment and send them with other regiments; but the officers of that department think that the regiment should be kept intact as a body and that if they go to the front they should go as the Royal Canadian Regiment."
This was given by Hughes in reply to a question as to why Canada, after having spent so much maintaining a Permanent Force infantry regiment, should send them off to Bermuda at the outset of the war instead of to the front. Hughes' reply admits to not only his original intent to break up The Royal Canadian Regiment within the First Contingent, but following attempts to drain off the experienced non-commissioned officers and men for his own purposes. Also implied is his readiness to leave the Royal Canadian Regiment in Bermuda until such time as the British Government "asks them to go to the front," at which time Canada might agree to the request. Hughes may be claiming that the perceived "unfriendliness" toward the Permanent Force was simply his attempt at "fairness," but by his own admission he made efforts to prevent The Royal Canadian Regiment from being employed as a fighting unit. In the end, his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and The Royal Canadian Regiment reached France in November, 1915, as part of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.