Topic: Drill and Training
Reveille to Lights Out (part 4 of 5)
The Montreal Gazette, 1 July 1942
(This is the fourth in a series of five articles describing the Canadians' transition from civilian to military life. Written by a soldier who has learned "the hard way," they give an illuminating insight into Army Life.)
The phrase from the Mikado. "Let the punishment fit the crime," might just as well have been taken from the Manual of Military Law as far as the Canadian soldier is concerned.
His interests are protected from the day of his enlistment until he is discharged from the army. Pages have been written in the official documents, and the greatest of pains have been taken to see that his rights are at all times respected.
"To be paraded" is a phrase that means more to the recruit than the civilian ever imagines, and it doesn't mean his being involved in a procession around town. When a soldier is paraded he is taken, in the proper manner, to his immediate senior officer for one of two reasons.
To begin with, he may feel that he has been wronged by a companion, an N.C.O. or an officer. It is his right to be paraded, first to his platoon commander, usually a lieutenant, and if he is not satisfied, from there to his company commander, a captain or major, and still further to the unit commander, a lieut-colonel as a rule.
He is given a chance to tell his side of a story which concerns him, and his right to be paraded guarantees his getting what soldiers have always called a "square deal."
On the other side, there is the case of a soldier who is paraded because he has been guilty of an offence against the Army Act. In this case he is paraded to the company commander by the company sergeant major, and is brought in between two of comrades who are termed "escorts." the accused is marched in with his escorts, to a position in front of the company commander's desk with his head bare.
The name of the accused is read out and he then steps forward one pace. The "crime" is read out, and the witnesses called to testify, and after all the evidence has been presented the accused soldier is asked what he has to say for himself.
If the sentence to be passed involves a forfeiture of pay on the part of the soldier, he is asked, before th punishment is announced "Are you willing to accept my punishment?" by the company commander; if the soldier agrees he is sentenced to the forfeiture of as many days' pay (and the powers of the company commander are limited, in this respect, to three day's pay) and in addition to a number of day (up to seven) C.B., or confinement to barracks. While a soldier is C.B. he may not leave the barracks, and must work after hours of parade on odd jobs around the camp, cutting grass, or washing dishes have taken the place of the old potato peeling punishment of 1914-18 by virtue of the automatic potato peelers in use at present.
The case of a soldier who refuses to accept punishment of the company commander is similar to one whose offence is one for which the punishment is beyond the powers of that officer. The soldier is paraded to the officer commanding (the unit). The procedure is quite the same as before, but the o.c. may award up to 14 days C.B., and 28 days detention.
A soldier in detention is locked up in the camp "jail." called Detention Barracks. While he is so confined he may not smoke, receives no pay and in addition, performs many of the more unpleasant duties around camp. He is made to parade also, but his health and moral welfare are superintended by the medical officer and padre respectively, on their regular rounds of inspection. If the punishment is believed by the officer commanding to be above even his powers he may remand the accused for a district court martial, and the procedure is similar if the soldier refuses to accept the punishment to be awarded by the O.C., but again, the accused must declare his willingness to accept the punishment before it is announced.
The only time there is an automatic forfeiture of pay is when a soldier is absent without official leave. When he has not attended parades, he is not, naturally, paid.