Topic: Canadian Army
Hard-Hitting Army Now Nations' Need
Major-General A.G.L. McNaughton Traces Evolution of Weapons of War
Speed, Range Factors
Old Linear Battle is Thing of Past, Chief of General Staff Declares
The Montreal Gazette, 1 February 1934
Modern weapons of war, as applicable in particular to the protection and support of infantry on the offensive, were discussed last night by Major-General A.G.L. McNaughton, C.M.G., D.S.O., Chief of the General Staff, before a large and distinguished group of officers in the Mess of the Canadian Grenadier Guards. His address, which was profusely illustrated, traced the development and evolution of bellicose equipment from the crude club and wooden shield, through the phase of Assyrian, Egyptian and other Asiatic chariots, spears and javelins of the pre-Christian era, to the bow and arrow, crossbow, catapult, mangon, Saracenic trebuchets, the beffrot and the battering ram in use before the advent of cannon in the middle of the fourteenth century.
Continuing, General McNaughton showed a picture of "Mons Meg," a cannon now at Edinburgh Castle that was constructed about the middle of the 15th century, with a bore of 20 inches and capable of projecting a stone of 350 pounds. In 1453, at the siege of Constantinople, Mahomet II is reported to have had weapons with a bore of 48 inches and capable of throwing projectiles of some 2,200 pounds.
For six hundred years preceding the Great War, the history of combative machines is that of guns and hand firearms, the Chief of Staff explained. Since the close of hostilities, he revealed that the range has been increased at least two fold in all natures; new propellants have been introduced that are more uniform and simpler to manufacture; shell design has been improved to increase the ballistic coefficient and to decrease the effect of wind and weather conditions on accuracy; the weight of explosive in shells and its available energy per pound on detonation have been improved substantially; while highly perfected gas and smoke shells have been made available. Furthermore, the effect of very high velocity light bullets on armour fives some suggestion that a special cartridge for the modern rifle might be developed for use against tank armour at short ranges.
Harder Hitting Armies
"I am more convinced than ever that we must move forward in our war organization to smaller, faster, harder-hitting armies of great range or action and long endurance, commanded and staffed by officers who can think in terms of combination of units and concentration of forces in areas measured in hundreds of square miles. The new mobility has certainly established the fact that the old linear battle is a thing of the past," General McNaughton continued, "Today a marching column is just as likely to be struck in rear or on its inner flank as it is to be attacked in front."
"With the intense development in weapons and warlike stores, proceeding with unrestricted attention in all the principal countries of the world, we must seriously consider the question as to whether we can properly rest our national security on the type of organization suitable to conditions of twenty years ago. That question cannot be answered until a definite and general trend of opinion finds expression. Our militia has not only the duty of bearing arms in defence of Canada, but as a citizen force it largely rests with its members to form opinion in these matters," the Chief of the General Staff declared.
Of special interest to the infantry, General McNaughton mentioned the new rifle, which has better shooting qualities, a more efficient "spike" bayonet, which will penetrate winter clothing and web equipment, a simple and sure method of of attaching the bayonet and grenade discharger, and general simplification of manufacture. Attention was also directed to the latest anti-aircraft funs, which can project 15-pound shells to an altitude of 30,300 feet, and with the aid of a predictor have a high degree of accuracy. Reference was made to the "Paris Guns," eight of which were built. Only 367 rounds were actually fired into the French capital. Pictures of the latest 18-pounder field guns, tanks, tractors, armored cars and Carden Loyd carriers were also shown.
"On history, we are not long concerned with nations unable or unwilling to keep pace with armament development," General McNaughton concluded. "However notable their civilization, however brave their warriors, and however adept their statesmen in the art of treaty-drafting, they soon pass from the stage before the onward march of those well able to forge and wield the newer weapons."
Lieut.-Col. F.R. Phalen, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., commanding the Canadian Grenadier Guards, introduced the Chief of the General Staff and expressed appreciation of all present for the honour conferred upon them by General McNaughton in consenting to deliver the address. Others present included: Brigadier W.W.P. Gibsone, district officer commanding at Montreal; Brigadier F.S. Meighen, honorary colonel of the "Guards"; Col. W.L. Gear, Col. W.S.M. MacTier, Col. J.D. Macperson, Col. R.P. Wright, and Lieut.-Colonels E.L. Caldwell, B.W. Browne, R.M. Gorssline, G.S. Stairs, A. Fleming, A.T. Howard, G.V. Whitehead, H.L. Trotter, S.A. Rolland, A.H. Cowie, F.J.B. Stephenson, A. Hay, K.M. Perry, H. Wyatt Johnston and P. Abbey.