The Minute Book
Wednesday, 31 May 2017

No. 1. -- Review at Montreal (1878)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Militia General Orders

Headquarters, Ottawa, 31st May, 1878

General Orders (13.)

No. 1. – Review at Montreal

I take the earliest opportunity to express to the officers of the general and personal staff and to the regimental officers and men of the various Corps assembled at Montreal on the 24th May, my extreme approbation of their soldierlike appearance, their steadiness under arms and the discipline so manifest throughout. They did full credit to the loyal celebration of her majesty's birthday and the honor of being permitted to pass in review before the Representative of Our Most Gracious Sovereign the Queen.

The long line covering three-quarters of a mile was taken up by the corps with a precision that might do credit to regular troops.

The Royal salute was fired by the Artillery without a fault.

The feu de joie was admirably fired along the whole line, with one exception the result of insufficient practice.

The march past both in column and quarter column was remarkable for solidity and steadiness. Wach Battery, Corps and Battalion evinced the strongest effort to appear to the best advantage, in which they completely succeeded.

Some loss of distance between Brigades and battalions occurred in the march in column, but it was almost unavoidable owing to the broken nature of much of the ground and the dense mass of people by whom they were impeded.

The order of battle was taken up rapidly and accurately by both attacking and opposing forces, as had been previously directed.

In the various attacks in front and on both flanks, the troops told off for that service behaved with coolness most remarkable. Each attack was delivered at the proper time and in the method indicated, and for young troops who had but little practice in the new formation of attack, I am happt to state that their conduct quite surpassed my expectations.

The field batteries were posted by Lieut.-Col. Strange, Royal Artillery, at salient points to command the enemy's position and to concentrate their fire upon his men. One of these batteries, however, owing to a judicious movement of the enemy's guns became exposed to a destructive plunging fire from the heights.

In the dense and surging crowd of some 40,000 people who covered the field in every direction, it became very difficult for the brigades of infantry to observe the cohesion and unity of action that is necessary. So impervious was this assemblage that it was with difficulty some of the Rifle Regiments could be distinguished, therefore I am afraid disappointment may have been experienced by some of the corps not being engaged as actively as I had intended."

The promptness with which the Batteries and battalions ceased action and assembled in line of contiguous columns for the last general advance in review order, struck me with admiration. Old troops could hardly have reformed and marched into line from distant, diverging points with more rapidity, steadiness and precision.

The troops representing the enemy were disposed with judgment, taking advantage of the commanding ground on which they were posted. The guns were placed and admirably served by Capt Short, "B" Battery.

I had desired that when the enemy were resolutely pushed home in front and both flanks in the final attack, they should have accepted defeat from an overwhelming force and retired by the Mountain Road. This, however, in the heat of the moment was only partially carried out, and so as I had ordered the contending forces not to approach nearer than 100 yards, I was constrained to cease fire and to terminate the field day sooner than I intended.

As it was, I regret that some of the "Queen's own" and the Montreal Artillery became engaged too closely in an orchard, resulting in the only accident of the day, which is due to non observance of orders.

The Cavalry, I am sorry to say, could not be employed in the operations of the day, their services were so useful in keeping the crowd from about the flag staff and fore-ground that they could not be spared.

They were admirably turned out and equipped, and their fine horses attracted special remark.

The Cavalry, Field and Garrison Artillery, Engineers and Infantry of Montreal Brigade were in their usual soldierlike order.

The demi battery of guns and the foot detachment of "B" Battery, could not be surpassed, they presented a model of thorough training and discipline.

They, together with the 8th Rifle Battalion, landed that morning from Quebec, and this latter corps also paraded most creditably and looked extremely well.

The Ottawa Field Battery and the Governor General's Foot Guards also arrived during the course of the previous night. They came on the ground in admirable order and as well turned out as from comfortable quarters, though their journey by the North Shore Railway was one of great discomfort and bad accommodation for both men and horses.

The Queen's Own had perhaps more special difficulty to contend against than even other corps from a distance. They traveled from Toronto 333 miles, during the night, reached Montreal at 10 a.m. and were in line 430 strong, two miles from the station, at 11:30, looking smart, fresh, clean and soldierlike, not a belt or buckle deranged. I expressed my regret at having to assign the left of the line to this battalion owing to the unavoidable lateness of its

The Queen's Own travelled 700 miles, and took part in a long and fatiguing field day all within 44 hours.

This corps and the 8th afterwards formed the right attack. I should have gladly, had it been possible, given them a more conspicuous position, but they must be contented to know that the turning movement they performed would probably in an actual engagement have mainly decided the fate of the day.

I must express likewise the pleasure it gave the whole force to be associated with a contingent of American Militia from St. Albans. They marched into the general line carrying the Stars and Stripes aloft, looking the picture of soldiers with cross-belts similar to the British Infantry before the days of rifled weapons. We received them among us as brothers in arms and we offered them a cordial and a hospitable welcome.

On the whole it is my pleasing duty to offer my hearty congratulations to the force employed on this occasion which I have every reason to hope will be useful to them as encouraging to the Militia of the Dominion in general, and that it will be long remembered as an interesting and instructive event.

I cannot conclude more appropriately than by repeating the emphatic words of the Governor General in His Excellency's speech at the Brigade dinner the same evening.

"The spectacle, however, I have witnessed this morning, the scene which now meets my view, more than repay me for my previous deprivations and disappointments. Anything more admirably arranged, more gratifying to the pride of Canadians, to all friends of Canada, than the performance this morning, cannot well be conceived. From first to last everything has passed off to my entire satisfaction, and I now beg to tender my best thanks, and to render this acknowledgement not only on my own behalf, but on behalf of my fellow spectators and of the country at large, to the Lieut.-General who planned, to the Militia authorities who have organized, and to the officers and men who at great personal inconvenience have executed and carried out the triumphant celebration with which we have this morning saluted the Birthday of our Most Gracious Sovereign."

ED. Selby Smyth,

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 May 2017

German and Russian Combat Tricks (1941-42)
Topic: The Field of Battle

German and Russian Combat Tricks (1941-42)

Small Unit Actions During the German Campaign in Russia, Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 20-269; Washington, 1953

A German Decoy Diverts Russian Aircraft (Winter 1941-42)

During the desperate struggle in the Rzhev area in the winter of 1941-42, the Russians employed several outdated biplanes to conduct night raids against German installations, to drop propaganda leaflets, and to supply encircled Russian units. Since the nightly harassing raids robbed the German defenders of their much-needed rest, the commander of a German infantry regiment decided to trick the enemy into dropping his bombs where they could cause no damage. He ordered his engineers to hang several lanterns on 6-foot poles set up in an isolated area. A wire connected the lanterns, and a man about 800 yards away manipulated the wire in such a way that the lanterns swayed back and forth. From the air this motion produced the effect of a number of men walking on the ground and carrying lanterns in their hands. On the following night the Russian air craft appeared as usual. Upon spotting what appeared to be a rewarding target, they immediately released their bombs which exploded without causing any damage except for the destruction of a number of lanterns. After this ruse had been successfully employed for a number of nights, higher headquarters refused to supply any more lanterns because of excessive expenditure. However, when a bomb landed squarely on the billets of the division commander two nights later, the order was rescinded, and lanterns were again available in unlimited quantities.

The Dummy Drop Zone (January 1943)

During the fighting near Demyansk in January 1943 a German infantry regiment succeeded in encircling elements of several Russian divisions in its rear area. Within a short time the Russians began to airdrop supplies to their encircled forces. A German radio intelligence detachment intercepted a Russian message transmitted to the units in the pocket, ordering them to lay out a drop zone with four fires. During the following night the fires should form the letter T; letters were to be changed every night.

The German regimental commander decided to take advantage of this information and prevent the Russian units in the pocket from receiving badly needed supplies. To this end he established a dummy drop zone outside the pocket. Russian prisoners of war who served the division as laborers were ordered to fill four shell craters forming the letter T with dry wood, which was then soaked in gaso line. The laborers had scarcely completed the task when the noise of approaching aircraft became audible. The piles of wood in the pits were quickly set afire. Upon noticing the fires on the ground, Russian aircraft dumped their cargo of ammunition and rations over the German drop zone. This deception was successfully repeated on three successive nights, and the encircled forces were thus deprived of supplies. They were forced to surrender a few days later.

On other occasions the Germans were equally successful in de ceiving Russian aircraft, provided that they observed the correct pro cedure. First, the number of fires and the letters they formed in the drop zone had to correspond to the prearranged signal. If the fires on the ground were not correctly laid out, the Russian pilots became suspicious and were likely to drop a few bombs instead of the desired supplies. Second, the fires had to be built in shell craters or pits according to Russian methods and not on flat ground.

The slow-flying Russian cargo planes were vulnerable to small-arms fire while making their approach run to the lighted drop zone. No tracer ammunition was to be used for this purpose. In their eagerness to recover the airdropped supplies, the German soldiers often did not wait until all Russian aircraft had departed. In one instance, a noncommissioned officer was severely injured when he was hit by frozen sides of bacon.

Russian Traps (February 1943)

Near Demyansk in February 1943 the German forces in the MLR were greatly understrength, and Russian reconnaissance patrols were often able to infiltrate. They would cut a wire line connecting outposts with the rear and prepare an ambush for the German troubleshooters, who usually arrived within a short time. As a rule, the wire repair team consisted of two men, whose attention was concentrated on the task at hand. While the two were engaged in repairing the damaged wire, the Russians would catch them off guard, overpower them silently, and take them away. At that time the German manpower shortage was so pronounced that usually no infantry detachments were available to protect the troubleshooters.

Another incident occurred on a particularly dark night, when one of two German infantrymen manning a machine gun momentarily left his post to investigate a suspicious noise. Five Russians belonging to a reconnaissance patrol jumped at the soldier who had remained at the machine gun, threw ground pepper into his face, pulled a bag over his head, and disappeared with him into the night. When he heard the noise, the other man ran back to the machine gun and fired several bursts in the direction in which the Russian patrol had vanished. On the following morning the bodies of a Russian officer and two Russian enlisted men were found in the immediate vicinity of the outpost, as was the body of the abducted German machine gunner. Two severely wounded Russians were discovered a few yards away. Among the Russian officer's papers the Germans found an elaborate plan of attack based on preliminary reconnaissance information, indicating that during the four preceding nights the officer had observed the German outpost area from behind a disabled tank at only 30 yards distance from the German machine gun crew.

German Sound Deception (November 1944)

During the fight ing along the Narev River in November 1944 the commander of a German infantry regiment requested from higher headquarters the dispatch of a sound truck equipped with recordings simulating the approach, assembly, and the attack of an armored division. Each record ran for 12 minutes. As soon as the requested equipment arrived, a shelter was constructed on a reverse slope so that the sound truck would be protected from enemy view and fire. Observers, equipped with telescopes, were to scrutinize the Russian positions to determine the emplacements of their heavy weapons and artillery. A fire plan was prepared according to which the heavy weapons of the three German battalions in that sector were to alternately fire at specified targets in order to confuse the Russians. Division and corps intercept units were alerted. The time for the deceptive attack was set for the late afternoon of a hazy November day, when visibility was at a minimum.

Soon after the start of the German fire, which was perfectly coordinated with the sounds of approaching armor, the Russian heavy weapons began to reply. A little later the artillery went into action. As the noise of the approaching German tanks grew louder, the Russian unit commanders became more and more alarmed and sent out frantic calls for help. This radio traffic was observed by the German intercept detachments, which were thus able to plot the location of the enemy command posts.

Thirty-seven minutes later a Russian artillery shell scored a direct hit on the cable which linked the loudspeaker to the sound truck, thus putting a sudden end to the performance. However, by this time the deception had achieved its purpose. The Russian forward positions had been identified, 11 mortar and 7 antitank gun emplacements had been determined, and a great number of artillery pieces had been located by flash and sound ranging. On the following day the identified Russian weapons were taken under fire and destroyed.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 29 May 2017

Things Necessary for a Gentleman
Topic: Officers

Things Necessary for a Gentleman to be furnished with, upon obtaining his first Commission in the Infantry (1776)

The Military Guide for Young Officers, Thomas Simes, Esq., 1776

A full suit of cloths; 2 frock suits; 2 hats; 2 cockades; 1 pair of leather gloves; sash, and gorget; fuzee, or espontoon; sword; sword-knot and belt; 2 pair of white spatterdashes (if in the foot guards); 1 pair of black, and tops; 1 pair of short; 1 pair of garters; 1 pair of boots, all regimentals); a case of pistols; a blue surtout coat; a Portugal cloak; 6 white waistcoats; 12 white, and 2 black stocks; 18 pair of stockings; 10 handkerchiefs; 1 pair of leather breeches; 6 pair of shoes; 24 shirts; 8 towels; 3 pair of sheets; 3 pillow cases; 6 linen night caps, and 2 yarn; a field bedstead, and a painted canvas bag to hold it; bed-curtains, quilt, three blankets, bolster, pillow, 1 mattress, and a pailace. Those articles should be carried in a leather valise; a travelling letter-case, to contain pens, ink, paper, wax, and wafers; a case of instruments for drawing, and Muller's Works on Fortification, &c. It is also essential that he should have a watch, that he may mark the hour exactly when he sends any report, or what he may have discovered that is of consequence.

If he is to provide a tent, the ornaments must be uniform, according to the facing of his corps.

Common Dimensions of the tent, for a Captain or Subaltern.

  • Length of the ridge pole – 7 ft. 0 ins.
  • Height of the standard pole – 8 ft. 0 ins.
  • Length from the front to rear of the marquee between half walls – 14 ft. 0 ins.
  • Breadth of the marquee between half walls – 10 ft. 6 ins.
  • Height of the half-walls of the marquee – 4 ft. 0 ins.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 28 May 2017

Conduct and Character of Soldiers of Permanent Force (1910)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Regarding Conduct and Character of Soldiers of Permanent Force (1910)

The King’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1910

The main object of giving a soldier a certificate of character is to assist him in obtaining employment in civil life, and the certificate should be so worded that employers of labour can readily estimate the true worth of the man.

332.     The guiding principle in examining a soldier's conduct sheets with a view to assessing his character, is to differentiate between a man's character as a soldier and his character as a man.

The main object of giving a soldier a certificate of character is to assist him in obtaining employment in civil life, and the certificate should be so worded that employers of labour can readily estimate the true worth of the man. In addition to recording his character, the certificate should contain any information which would show what qualification a man possesses as regards civilian employment, e.g., "thoroughly sober and reliable"; "accustomed to the care of horses and a good groom"; "a good clerk, painstaking and industrious"; also, if desired by the soldier, "wife (washerwoman, needlewoman, &c.)," or any other special qualifications which a woman may possess.

333.     The success of arrangements for providing civil employment for a discharged soldier must, in a great measure, depend upon the manner in which the character of a man is estimated. If men recommended as of "good" character are found to be untrustworthy or unsteady, the confidence of employers of labour will not be gained. On the other hand, if, on account of comparatively trifling irregularities of a purely military nature, a man is refused a good character, his subsequent career in civil life may be injuriously affected. The responsibility, therefore, of a C.O. in this respect is very great, and his special attention is directed to the subject.

334.     To ensure uniformity in estimating and recording a man's character while serving, or on discharge, the following terms will be strictly adhered to:—

(i.)     Exemplary.
(ii.)     Very good.
(iii.)     Good.
(iv.)     Fair.
(v.)     Indifferent.
(vi.)     Bad.
(vii.)     Very bad.

335.     In estimating the character of a soldier, a C.O. will take into consideration any entries in a man's medical history sheet for admission into hospital on account of alcoholism. In cases where the character recorded is "indifferent," "bad," or "very bad," the reason for recording which a character will be briefly stated in the "Proceedings on Discharge," the man's conduct as a soldier being separated as much as possible from his character as a man, for example— (i) "conduct indifferent, has been guilty of frequent acts of absence, but is smart, willing and hardworking;" (ii) "conduct indifferent, has been addicted to drink, but is a smart soldier and respectful to his officers," (iii) "conduct bad, has been guilty of desertion, but has proved a gallant soldier in the field." In cases where the character is recorded as fair, or upwards, the C.O. will supplement it (when in the soldier's interest) by the words:—

(a)     No offence in whole service of ____ years; or
(b)     No offence during the lat _____ years and (where applicable);

No instance of drunkenness in whole service of _____ years.

Any such particulars that can be truthfully recorded in favour of the soldier should also be inserted in his certificate of character, but the reason for assessing the character as indifferent, bad, &c., is not to be inserted in the certificate.

336.     An "exemplary" character is the highest that can be given to any soldier, and is to be given only to a man whose period of service has enable his conduct to be thoroughly tested. It is to be reserved, therefore, for a man who has served for at least six years, who has not incurred more than the following number of entries in the regimental conduct sheet, and has been clear of an entry in the regimental conduct sheets for the periods stated in the subjoined table:—

Length of Service—No. of entries allowed in.Years clear of entry in.
 Regimental Conduct Sheet.
6 and under 9 years.25
9 and under 12 years.46
12 and under 15 years.57
15 and under 18 years.68
18 and upwards.79

The C.O. is the sole judge of whether an "exemplary" character should be granted. Though the soldiers fulfills the above conditions, the grant of an "exemplary" character is discretionary and not obligatory.

337.     In cases where a more favourable character than "fair" cannot be given to an N.C.O., the reasons will be briefly recorded in the proceedings on discharge, but not in the parchment certificate of discharge.

338.     A bad character is not to be given to a N.C.O.

339.     When a recruit is discharged before he has completed one month's service, and receives a good character, the words "during his _____ days' service" should be added after the word "good" in the proceedings on discharge and in the parchment certificate of discharge.

340.     A duplicate or copy of the discharge, or extract from official records, will not be issued to a discharged soldier. A certified copy of the record of a man's service will be supplied to the officer charged with his payment, if asked for.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rates of Pay on Active Service (1870)
Topic: Pay; the Queen's shilling

Rates of Pay on Active Service (1870)

Regulations and Orders for the Active Militia of the Dominion of Canada, 1870

The following are the rates of pay an allowances of officers when on active service.

Rate per day.Daily rate in lieu of all allowances.
Lt.-Colonel in Command of a Battalion.$4.87$1.00Pay and Allowances for these appointments can only be granted when the Officers are serving with their own Battalion or with a Provisional Battalion, and should be included at the end of such of the Company pay lists as the Commanding Officer directs.
Adjt. with Rank of Lt.2.440.90
Do. with Rank of Ensign.2.130.90
Asst. Surgeon2.430.72
Captain2.820.76These Officers are to be included for pay an allowances with their Men.
Ensign, 2nd Lieut. or Cornet1.280.69

No Regimental Staff Officer is to receive pay unless he has neen regularly appointed to the battalion of provisional battalion, nor is pay to be granted for Brevet rank of any kind, nor on account of half or unattached pay. Officers are not entitled to rations of any kind at the Government expense, the rate of "allowances" above fixed being intended to cover their Lodging, Rations, Forage (mounted corps excepted), Fuel and Light.

The rates of pay for each non-commissioned officer and man shall be as follows for their respective grades:

RankRate of pay per day. (cents)
Quartermaster Sergeant90
Paymaster's Clerk90
Orderly Room Clerk90
Hospital Sergeant90
Pay Sergeants80

The N.C.O. and privates shall receive, in addition to their pay, free lodgings and rations, and officers and men of mounted corps shall receive forage in addition for their horses, or a daily allowance of 25 cents in lieu thereof for each horse.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 May 2017

Honours and Awards for Rescue of Wounded (1918)
Topic: Medals

Honours and Awards for Rescue of Wounded (1918)

Instructions Regarding Recommendations for Honours and Awards, Military Secretary's Branch, General Headquarters, 1918

47.     (i.)     No one other than those whose duty it is to care for the wounded will be rewarded for their rescue.

(ii.)     Cases of the nature of the following may, however, be submitted for immediate reward:—

(a)     Rescuing men buried in trenches.

(b)     Bringing wounded men back from a raid, thus preventing the enemy from obtaining information.

(c)     Any act specially ordered by an officer to help stretcher bearers in their duties.

(iii.)     The objects in view in thus restricting recommendations are:—

(a)     To ensure that the rescue of the wounded shall not be allowed to interfere with the employment of every available man for the operations in course of execution.

(b)     To avoid unnecessary loss of life.

(c)     To discourage attempts to win honours for the sake of the honours themselves.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 25 May 2017

Feu de Joie—1857
Topic: Canadian Militia

Feu de Joie—1857

Adjutant General's Office Toronto, 5th May, 1857

Militia General Order

The several Corps of the Active Militia Force of the Province will fire a feu de joie on Monday, the 25th instant, in honor of Her Majesty's Birth-day, in the manner laid down in page 58 of the Instructions for Drill of the Volunteer Militia, compiled by the Adjutant general as regards the Infantry.

At stations where either Field Batteries of Foot Companies of Artillery are organized, in addition to Cavalry and Infantry, the mode to be adopted will be as follows, viz.:

Each of the three rounds of blank ammunition to be fired by the Infantry, will be preceded by seven rounds from the Artillery, the Artillery thus firing in all twenty-one rounds and the Infantry three rounds of blank cartridge. Officers Commanding will cause the feu de joie to be fired either at 12 o'clock or at 1 o'clock as may be most convenient to the men.

When the time arrives for giving three cheers, the Officer Commanding will direct the men to take off their shakos or forage caps, as the case may be, and taking the cue from the Officer Commanding, give three cheers for her majesty the Queen.

By command of His Excellency the Governor General and Commander in Chief

de Rottenburg, Colonel
Adjt. General, Militia

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Roll Call, Coal Fatigues, et al. (1902)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Roll Call, Coal Fatigues, et al. (1902)

General Orders, 1902; Canada Gazette, volume 36, number 17, 25 October 1902

Subject to the requirements of training, which must be paramount, the soldier's time will be so apportioned that he has at his disposal on each day a certain definite period of leisure.

G.O. 103—Imperial Army Orders

The following extracts from Imperial Army Orders of 1st September, 1902, are published for the information and guidance of the Militia:—

Duties and Administration.— All roll calls will be discontinued, except those held—

(a)     At reveille,

(b)     For recruits, boys, defaulters, and for such other individual soldiers, and on such occasions as may be ordered by officers commanding stations and units.

2.     Soldiers will be warned for all duties, &c., by means of daily orders posted in a suitable place in each squadron, battery, or company's quarters. The soldier will himself be held personally responsible that he makes himself acquainted with all orders.

3.     Soldiers are permitted to smoke when walking in the streets, except when employed on any duty.

4.     Coal fatigues will be performed by defaulters. If none are available, the fatigues will be performed as follows:—

(a)     For non-regimental quarters, offices, schools, gymnasia, and other similar establishments and buildings—by the soldiers and civilian subordinates employed at such quarters, etc., or by arrangement with the contractor, provided no extra public expense is incurred thereby.

(b)     For officers' mess and quarters, and sergeants' mess—by servants or waiters.

(c)     For regimental institutes and offices—by men employed thereat.

(d)     For married quarters and barrack room—by the occupants of the quarters or room.

Light carts or trucks should be utilized wherever available.

5.     Kit inspection for trained men and recruits will be held only at such times as officers commanding corps, squadrons, etc., may consider necessary.

6.     The visiting or inspection of barracks, stables, &c., will not, except in cases of necessity, be performed on Sunday. The holding of parades will, as far as possible, be avoided on Sundays.

7.     A system of police will, wherever possible, replace garrison and regimental guards, which will only be mounted in special cases to be decided by the officer commanding the station of camp.

8.     No soldier will be employed in any capacity whatever in canteens of institutes conducted on the tenant system, except for disciplinary purposes.

9.     Subject to the requirements of training, which must be paramount, the soldier's time will be so apportioned that he has at his disposal on each day a certain definite period of leisure. This period will not be broken into for fatigue and working parties, except in circumstances of exceptional urgency.

The necessary amendments will be made to the King's Regulations. (Army Order No. 211 of 1902).

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Military Discipline (1776)
Topic: Discipline

Military Discipline (1776)

The Military Guide for Young Officers, Thomas Simes, Esq., 1776

Few orders are best; but they are to be executed with attention, and offences to be punished without respect of either rank or extraction.

Next to the forming of troops, military discipline is the first object that presents itself to our notice. It is the soul of all armies; and unless it be established among them with great prudence, and supported by unshaken resolution, they are no better than so many contemptible heaps of rabble, which are more dangerous to the very state that maintains them, then even its declared enemies.

It is a false notion, that subordination, and a passive obedience to superiors, is any debasement of a man's courage; so far from it, that it is a general remark, that those armies which have been subject to the severest discipline, have always performed the greatest things.

Many general officers imagine, that in giving out orders they do all that is expected from them; and therefore, as they are sure to find great abuses, enlarge their instructions accordingly; in which they proceed upon a very erroneous principle, and take such measures as can never be effectual in restoring discipline in an army wherein it has been lost or neglected.

Few orders are best; but they are to be executed with attention, and offences to be punished without respect of either rank or extraction. All partiality and distinction must be utterly abolished, otherwise you expose yourself to hate and resentment. By enforcing your authority with judgment, and setting a proper example, you may render yourself at once both beloved and feared. Severity must be accompanied with great tenderness and moderation; so displayed upon every occasion as to appear void of all manner of design, and totally the effect of a natural disposition.

Great punishments are only to be inflicted for great crimes; but the more moderate they are in general, the more easy it will be to reform abuses; because all the world, concurring in the necessity of them, will cheerfully promote their effect.

We have, for example, one very pernicious custom; which is, that of punishing marauders with certain death, so that a man is frequently hanged for a single offense; in consequence of which they are rarely discovered; because everyone is unwilling to occasion the death of a poor wretch, for only having been seeking perhaps to gratify his hunger.

If, instead of this method, we did but send them to the provost's, there to be chained like galley-slaves; and condemned to subsist on bread and water for one, two, or three months; or to be employed on some of those works which are always carrying on in an army; and not to be restored to their regiments, till the night before the engagement, or till the Commander in Chief shall think proper; then all the world would join their endeavours to bring such delinquents to punishment; the officers upon grand guards and out-posts would not suffer one to escape; by whose vigilance and activity the mischief would thus be soon put an entire stop to. Such as fall at present into the hands of justice, are very unfortunate indeed; for the Provost and his party, when they discover any marauders, immediately turn their eyes another way, in order to give them an opportunity to escape; but at the Commander in Chief is perpetually complaining of the outrages which are committed, they are obliged to apprehend one now and then, who falls a sacrifice for the rest. Thus the examples that are made have no tendency towards removing the eveil, or restoring discipline; and hardly answer any other purpose, then to justify the common saying among the soldiers, That none but the unfortunate are hanged.—Perhaps it may be observed, that the officers likewise suffer marauders, to pass by their posts unnoticed. But that is an abuse which may be easily remedied, by discovering from the prisoners what particular posts they passed by, and imprisoning the officers who commanded them, during the remainder of the campaign. This will render them careful, vigilant, and severe; nevertheless, when a man is to be punished wioth certain death for the offence, there are but few of them who would not risk two or three months imprisonment, rather than be instrumental to it.

All other military punishments, when carried to extremes of severity, will be attended with the same consequences.—It is also very necessary to prevent those from being branded with the name of infamy, which should be regarded in a milder light; as the gantlope, for instance, which in France is reputed ignominious; but which, in the case of the soldier, deserves a different imputation, because it is a punishment which he receives at the hands of his comrades. The reason of its being thus extravagantly vilified, proceeds from the custom of inflicting it in common upon whores, rogues, and such offenders as fall within the province of the hangman; the consequence of which is, that one is obliged to pass the colours over a soldier's head, after he had received this punishment, in order, by such an act of ceremony, to take off that idea of ignominy which is attached to it; a remedy worse than the evil, and which is also productive of a much greater; for after a man had run the gantlope, his Captain immediately strips him, for fear he should desert, and then turns him out of the service; by which means this punishment, how much soever necessary, is never inflicted but for capital crimes; for when a soldier is confined for the commission of any trivial offence, the Commanding Officer always releases him, upon the application of his Captain, because the loss of the man would be some deduction from his perquisites.

There are some things of great importance towards the promotion of discipline, that are altogether unattended to; which, as well as the persons who practice them, are frequently laughed at and despised.—The French, for example, ridicule that law amongst the Germans, of not touching a dead horse; which is a good institution, if not carried too far. Pestilential diseases are, in a great measure, prevented by it; for the soldiers frequently plunder dead carcasses for their skins, and thereby expose themselves to infection. It does not prevent the killing and eating of horses during seiges, a scarcity of provisions, or other exigencies. Let us from hence, therefore, judge, whether it is not rather useful than otherwise.

The French also reproach the Germans for the bastinade, which is a military punishment amongst them. If a german officer strikes, or otherwise abuses a private soldier, he is cashiered, upon compliant made by the party injured; and also compelled, on pain of forfeiting his honour, to give him satisfaction, if he demands it, when he is no longer under his command. This obligation prevails alike through all ranks; and there are frequently instances of general officers giving satisfaction, at the point of the sword, to subalterns who have quitted the service; for there is no refusing to accept their challenge, without incurring ignominy.

The French do not at all scruple to strike a soldier with their hands; but they are hardly ever tempted to apply the flick, because that is a kind of chastisement which has been exploded, as inconsistent with that notion of liberty which prevails among them. Punishments are certainly necessary, provided they are not dishonourable.

Let us compare these different customs of these two nations, and judge which contributes most to the good of the service, and the proper support of the point of honour. The punishments for their officers are likewise of distinct kinds. The French upbraid the Germans with their Provosts and their chains; the latter retort the reproach, by exclaiming against the prisons and ropes of the French; for the German officers are never confined in the public prisons. They have a Provost to every regiment; which post is always given to an old Serjeant, in recompense for his service; but I have never heard of the officers being put in irons, unless for great crimes, and after they had been first degraded.

These observations demonstrate the absurdity of condemning particular costums or prejudices, before one has examined their original causes.

Nothing can be so necessary to the soldier as discipline; without it, troops may become more dangerous than useful, more hurtful to ourselves, than to our enemies. The means of discipline are regulated by our military laws, and by the articles of war; which command obedience to superiors; and courage against an enemy; in regard to private conversation, politeness should exceed authority, and the Officer subside in the gentleman.

The nature of service is such, that in actions, errors cannot be committed with impunity. The particulars necessary to be observed are many and various; but none more essential to victory, than a strict obedience to orders, and a just observation of signals; on this depends success and safety of the troops.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 22 May 2017

Mines and Boobytraps: Enemy Sources of Supply
Topic: Militaria

Mines and Boobytraps: Enemy Sources of Supply

FMFRP 12-43; Professional Knowledge Gained from Operational Experience in Vietnam, 1969, Special Issue, Mines and Boobytraps, U.S. Marine Corps, July 1989

Mortar rounds, rockets, LAAW'S, grenades, and small arms ammunition abandoned to lighten the load (or improperly secured and lost by fast-moving Marines) have value as the explosive element in boobytraps.

The enemy uses a very limited number of modern machine-produced mines. The majority of enemy mines are handmade by the VC using U.S. duds, discarded ammunition and equipment, and materials thrown away by U.S. forces as trash. Ninety percent of all the material in enemy mines and booby-traps is of U.S. origin. Of all the explosive devices produced locally in VC mine factories, 95 percent are anti-personnel boobytraps.

All dud ammunition is a source of enemy supply . After airstrikes and artillery and mortar missions, enemy salvage teams make sweeps to collect duds. Lighter ordnance is carried away to preparation areas; large bombs and projectiles are broken down and stripped on the spot. In some cases the larger duds are rigged as boobytraps where they have fallen. This is especially true when the enemy feels the strike or fire mission was a preparation for an infantry attack.

However, dud ammunition is not the only source of enemy supply. Carelessly discarded ordnance of all sizes and in any quantity is collected by enemy salvage teams. Mortar rounds, rockets, LAAW'S, grenades, and small arms ammunition abandoned to lighten the load (or improperly secured and lost by fast-moving Marines) have value as the explosive element in boobytraps. Even a single M16 round ejected to clear a stoppage can be used by the enemy.

Additionally, materials discarded as trash and improperly destroyed such as ration, ammunition, beer and soda cans, batteries, waterproof packaging materials, bandoleers, etc., provide the enemy a valuable source of supply to support his mine warfare operations. These items have, on numerous instances, been employed successfully against Marines and their equipment. Thorough police of friendly positions upon departure and complete destruction of trash are mandatory to deny the enemy this source of supply.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 21 May 2017

Field Fortification (1868)
Topic: Militaria

Field Fortification (1868)

Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, compiled by Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C. V. M., 1868

The Nomenclature, and uses, of the different parts of a field work and obstacles (see fig 1), are as follows: —

a.b. The Banquette is the platform on which the defenders of the work stand. It is level, or slightly inclined to the rear, to carry off the water; three feet wide, or four feet six inches when destined for two files of men, and stands 4 feet three inches below the crest of the parapet. To ascend from the interior of the work, or Terreplein, up to the Banquette, the slope of banquette is constructed.

The parapet is the covering mass behind which the defenders are sheltered; it is connected with the banquette by the interior slope, b.c. The line c.d. is called the superior slope, and slants towards the outside of the works, so as to enable the defenders to cover the ditch with their fire. The parapet should be at least eight feet in height; d.e. is the exterior slope and the ledge, e.f., is called the Berm. This is left to prevent the earth from the exterior slope falling into and filling up the ditch. The slope of the ditch, f.g., is called the Escarp, and h.i. the Counterscarp. The ditch should be from 8 to 12 feet in depth, and from 12 to 20 feet in width. The slope j.k. is called the Glacis. It is raised in order to bring the assailant within the direct line of fire from the parapet. The pitfalls, l.l., are called Trous-de-loups, and are used as an obstacle to the advance of an enemy. They are round holes, about six feet wide and deep, with a sharpened picket set in the bottom, m. is a Fougasse, or small mine, to be fired from the interior of the work. The explosion breaks the ground and throws the assailing column into confusion. The obstruction at n. is called an Abattis, and is a formidable obstacle. It is made of small or trees, stout branches, stripped of leaves and sharpened, and their trunks well fixed in the ground by a few pickets, the branches being interwoven.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 20 May 2017

Changes Leading to Existing Militia System (1908)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Changes Leading to Existing Militia System (1908)

The Old Militia Law of Canada, The New Militia Laws of Australia and New Zealand, and Lord Kitcheners Report; Extracts from a Paper by Lieut. -Col. Wm. Hamilton Merritt, R.O.. President Canadian Military Institute. (Read before the Canadian Military Institute at Toronto, Monday Events in evening, 21st Nov., 1910.)

…respect for superiors had almost vanished, when men would give such answers to their names as "Sitting on the fence," or "Chewing a quid of tobacco!"

The weakness of the old Militia System was in its rendering. In some Provinces the militia-man eventually was only taught to bear arms in one muster day a year, and there was no other training even in the matter of rifle-shooting. In other Provinces, such as Nova Scotia, a better state of things prevailed, but the general weak rendering of an otherwise perfect and necessary system for Canada caused efforts to be made to create an active militia which should have more training. This appears to have been the object of the partial change effected by the Act of 1846, and of the epoch-making Act of 1855. The Act of 1846 was the thin edge of the wedge. Its most noticeable features are the introduction of the classification of the old "universal service" militia and the authorization of "volunteer" companies. While the universal annual enrollment was retained, the men of 40 and over were formed into a second class, which was to be drawn upon only in war- time. The first class were to be drawn upon for a military force raised for "active" service, not more than 30,000 strong, the "period of service" to be two years. Only one day's training was still the extent of the service required. The Act of 1855 brought about a departure from the old "Patriotic Service" form of military organization in Canada, and contemplated the raising of some 5,000 men to form "corps d'elite" among the militia and the retention of the old "universal service." Two "divisions" of militia were now recognized, the "sedentary" and the "active" or "volunteer." The former was to be enrolled annually. The members of the active or volunteer force were to provide their uniforms and clothing free, but they were to receive pay for a specified number of days' drill in the year. In 1859 the volunteer militia were ordered to drill for 6 consecutive days in each year, with pay of a dollar a day. In the early sixties schools of military instruction in connection with the regulars, then in Canada, were established with $50 allowance to those who obtained certificates of qualification in a 56 days' course. In all, more than 6,000 certificates were thus obtained. In 1865 the volunteer militia was ordered 16 days' drill at 50c a day. In 1868, after Confederation, a Militia Act for the whole Dominion was passed, which is virtually the system at present existing, with an active militia and a dormant, or sedentary, militia as a reserve. The Militia Act of 1901 is, however, a more decided step in the direction of a standing army in that it provides for a permanent force of 2,000, increased in 1905 to 5,000.

The annual muster day was evidently kept up until Confederation, for Lt. -Col. James Walker of Calgary, commanding officer of the 15th Alberta Light Horse, informs me that he enrolled a company at Ancaster Village in 1867, on May 24th, Capt. Snider being then the commanding officer of the company. It seems amazing to realize, through Col'n. Walker, who is still a most active and efficient officer, what a short time has elapsed since the falling-away took place from the principle of "patriotic" or "universal" service, and the adoption of our present "mercenary or dollar” system. Col. Walker bears testimony to the disrepute into which the one muster-day had fallen, how the fine alone forced out the militia-man, where, indeed, he may not have been attracted by the Captain's customary "treat" at the nearest tavern, and how respect for superiors had almost vanished, when men would give such answers to their names as "Sitting on the fence," or "Chewing a quid of tobacco!"

It might be of interest to quote the opinion of one who fought through 1812-13 and 14, and who lived to see and lament the retrogade steps of new militia enactments. In the biography of the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt, who was Lieut, in the "Niagara Light Dragoons," 1812, and Capt. commanding a troop of "Provincial Dragoons" ("Niagara Frontier Guides") in 1813-14 until taken prisoner at the battle of Lundy's Lane, we find his biographer (J. P. Merritt, his son) states:—"1846.—A new militia bill was brought in, on which he expressed a preference for the old law of 1808, inaugurated under the immortal Brock, whereby flank companies were always kept enrolled and trained for an emergency, thereby forming an active force, ready at any time to take the field, and form a rallying body for the rest. The wisdom of this scheme was well tried in 1812, when nearly the entire militia force was ready to take the field in defence of their country in from 12 to 24 hours after the declaration of war." And again:

"1854.—In March of this year we find the first movement towards establishing a volunteer organization, which afterwards entirely supplanted the old militia, although we doubt if the results of the movements has paid us good interest on the money spent over its institution, as we are still without the efficient home army of 1794, 1812 or even 1837."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 19 May 2017

Commando Arms and Equipment
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Commando Arms and Equipment

British Commandos; Special Series No. 1, Prepared by the Military Intelligence Service, War Department, Washington, August 1942

Every man who joins the commandos brings his own rifle or pistol, and he is also provided with a fighting knife, which is used by the commandos with particular effectiveness.

In choosing the kinds of arms and equipment suitable for commandos, the determining factor was the type of operations in which they would engage. In the summer of 1940 the Germans were in positions along the coast line of Europe, from Narvik in northern Norway to Biarritz in southwestern France. Any part of this coast was within reasonable striking distance from the British Isles. In view of the Royal Navy's superiority at sea, the raiding opportunities for commando units seemed unlimited. The task was essentially one for an amphibious force…a sort of super-marines…who would fight only with equipment which could be carried on their backs from a boat to the beach. They would also need the guerrilla's traditional mobility on any terrain, which meant that vehicles larger than bicycles, and perhaps than a handcart, were not practicable. Any better means of transport would have to be captured at the scene of operations.

Consequently, regulation requirements for the number an allocation of weapons are not prescribed, but in every case distribution is made according to the tactical requirements of the particular mission to be performed. Every man who joins the commandos brings his own rifle or pistol, and he is also provided with a fighting knife, which is used by the commandos with particular effectiveness. Each commando headquarters has a separate store of extra weapons so that extreme flexibility in armament is assured. A typical store contains: Bren guns; Thompson submachine guns; calibre .50 antitank rifles; 2-inch and 3-inch mortars with a supply of both smoke and high-explosive shells; defensive (fragmentation) Mills hand grenades; offensive (plastic body, concussion type) hand grenades; smoke pots; Very pistols; "knuckle dusters"; (brass knuckles); "Limpets" (magnetic, acid, high-explosive mines), one type suitable for use against ships and another for use against tanks; and demolitions of all types. Each troops is equipped with Bren guns, Thompson submachine guns, an anti-tank rifle, and a 2-inch mortar; normally each sub-section is allocated one Bren gun and a submachine gun, the allocation of the anti-tank rifle and the mortar being left to the discretion of the troops commander.

The clothing and equipment furnished commandos includes a variety of types. Normal clothing is "battle dress," a two-piece woolen garment, stout shoes, and leggings. In colder weather a sleeveless button-up leather jacket which reaches the hips is worn over or under battle dress; a two-piece denim dungaree is also provided for wear over battle dress in damp or rainy weather. The men are further equipped with cliff-climbing and with hauling materials, such as rubber soled shoes and toggle-and-eye ropes. A wool undervest and a heavy-ribbed wool cardigan with long sleeves and turtle neck are also available for cold-weather wear. All clothing is designed and worn solely with a view to comfort and utility under actual operating conditions. No leather belts are worn either by officers or enlisted men; a fabric waist-belt is provided. In addition to his weapons, the individual soldier generally receives such items as these: Tommy (individual) cooker; lensatic compass; skis and poles; individual waist life-bet ("Mae West"); Primus stove; 1-gallon thermal food-container; gas cape; wristlets. Troops are equipped with two-man rubber boats; plywood (sectionalized) canoes; collapsible canvas canoes; bamboo and canvas stretchers; 2-inch scaling ropes; 1-inch-mesh heavy wire in rolls for crossing entanglements; and toggle ropes. Transportation equipment for each commando includes Hillman pick-up 1,500-pound trucks, motorcycles, and one 3-ton truck. Communication equipment for each troops includes a number of portable radio sets, voice-and-key type, weighing 36 pounds with a voice range of 5 miles; semaphore flags; blinker guns; Very pistols and flares.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Mountain Gun and Mule Team (1916)
Topic: Militaria

The Mountain Gun and Mule Team (1916)

The Illustrated War News, 2 February 1916

In mountainous districts where no roads exist it is impossible to use ordinary field artillery, simply because transport on wheels is out of the question. To meet this difficulty a light mountain-gun is used, this weapon being so designed that it can be rapidly taken to pieces and the individual parts loaded on the backs of a number of mules, varying from three, in the case of the smallest gun, to five in the larger types. The 2.95- inch q.f. mountain-gun may be taken as a good example (Figs. 1 and 4). In its case, one animal, known as the "gun-mule," carries the gun-barrel, or "chase," with its details; another, the "cradle-mule," carries the cradle, or frame, in which the gun rests when put together for action; a third animal, called the "carriage-mule," transports the gun-carriage, or trail; and the "wheel-and-axle-mule" completes the team, carrying those parts on its back (Figs. 1 and 2) . A gun carried in this manner can be rapidly conveyed over rough ground to otherwise inaccessible positions, and, if advantage be taken of available cover, it generally happens that the transport of the gun can be carried out with the minimum risk of discovery by the enemy. The gun and its parts and gear can be removed from the pack-saddles, put together, and made ready for action within the space of a minute.

(Click to expand.)

A gun-mule, it is a curious fact, instinctively acquires special experience during his spell in the service of the battery, which extends in some cases over a period of twenty years, and that experience on the part of the animal adds considerably to the efficiency of the battery. A well-trained mule, for example, will always select the easiest path, and in climbing a stiff gradient will sometimes, if he can get hold of a convenient scrub bush or branch for the purpose, help to pull himself up by his teeth. Again, trusting to the gunners holding on to his tail as a brake, a trained mule will, without hesitation, slide down an incline of 45 degrees. When, with the 2.95-inch Q.F. Mountain Battery, the gun-mule carries a weight of 330 lb.; the cradle-mule, 300 lb.; the wheel-and-axle mule, 302 lb.; and the carriage-mule, 343 lb. These weights can be carried by the same animals all day if necessary, but it is usual to provide relief-mules, to which the loads can be transferred in half a minute as they trot up alongside for the purpose. A mule battery can often be very useful even in a level country, as it can be rapidly and secretly brought into action along a ditch (Fig. 3) or a foot-path through a plantation where such a course would be impracticable with a battery on wheels. In exceptional cases, when the mules cannot safely get up to a difficult position, the gunners themselves can turn to in their place and carry the various parts of each gun in a battery to the desired point, so as to come into action without delay.

When a battery is travelling by road, the guns are put together and their carriages fitted with a pair of shafts each, so that they can be drawn in the usual manner instead of being carried on the backs of the mules.

The 2.95 q.f. mountain-gun (Fig. 4) consists of a trail and carriage, (A) supported on its road wheels (B). Resting on the carriage is a cradle (C) in the form of a cylinder which encloses the gun-barrel, or "chase" (D). To the cradle (C) are attached a pair of piston-rods (E) which carry recoil-controlling pistons within the recoil cylinders. (F), the latter cylinders being rigidly fixed to the carriage (A). A column (G) is attached to the cradle (C) to carry the, "sight" of the gun. Eye-bolts (H H) are provided by means of which the "cradle" and the "chase" are secured to the pack-saddles for transport. In the Vickers-Maxim mountain-gun the trail is divided into three pieces, so that one or both of the after-parts can be removed when it is desired to use the gun in a cramped Position.

The shell fired by the British 2.95 q.f. gun weighs about 13 lb.; that of the Krupp gun of the same calibre, 14.3 lb. There is, in addition, a Krupp mountain-howitzer carried by twelve mules which weighs just over a ton and fires a 27-1b. shell.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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
Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Junior Officer in Battle
Topic: Officers

Junior Officer in Battle

Combat Lessons, Number 1, Rank and file in combat: What they're doing, How the do it. (US Army, 1944)

A company officer must build a legend about himself. He must take calculated risks.

Captain William T Gordon, Infantry, Sicily:

"Since November 8, I have had seventeen officers in my company, and I am the only one who started out with it who is left in the fight. In Tunisia, from troops pinned down in the dark, I have heard enlisted men call out such things as 'Where is an officer to lead us?'—'We don't want to lie here—we want to attack—where is an officer?'

"… In each case an officer or officers have risen to the occasion, but this nevertheless shows beyond anything else the demand for battle leadership.

"A company officer must build a legend about himself. He must take calculated risks. He must, on the other hand, do what he expects his men to do: he must always dig in; always take cover. His men must know that when he ducks they must duck; on the other hand, they must not believe that when the officer ducks they must run away. The officer must come through every barrage and bombing with a sheepish grin and a wry remark. Masterly understatement of hardship and danger endured plus a grin always pays dividends."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 15 May 2017

Open Letter to General Herbert (1893)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Open Letter to General Herbert of Canada's Military Force

Not an Army of Defence

Military Notes, The Quebec Daily Telegraph, 15 May 1893

The duty of a public officer is to do as little as he can for his money and to get along as smoothly as he can.

The following open letter addressed to General Herbert explains itself:—

"Sir,—I have on more than one occasion, as an amateur journalist, ventured to criticise some of your acts unfavourably, and have even had the presumption at times to commend you for what you had done and encourage you to go ahead. Having pointed out some of your minor mistakes, you will pardon me if I point out some of your greater ones, and my excuse for doing so is that I have vastly more experience with the Canadian militia than you have. In the first place you seem to imagine that it is meant for an army of defence and should therefore be kept in an efficient state. You were never more mistaken in your life. You do not seem to understand that it is first and foremost a political machine, by means of which friends can be favored and advanced, and foes slighted. But you will say, it is my duty as a public officer to see that the force is kept as efficient as possible and that the country gets the worth of its money. Here you are again mistaken. The duty of a public officer is to do as little as he can for his money and to get along as smoothly as he can. When you go to inspect a battalion you should carefully shut your eyes to all defects, let the regiment be put through a few of the 'show' movements, carefully rehearsed beforehand, and at the close assure them in your most genial manner that you have been delighted with everything you saw, that no volunteer regiment in the world could excel them and that their drill and discipline would do credit to regulars. This will do very well for city battalions, but for country battalions you can alter your speech a little and praise the physique of the men. If that is hopelessly bad you can praise their smart, tidy appearance, but in any case assure the men that they are a credit to their country. A man who keeps a sharp lookout can always find something to praise if his conscience is elastic enough. But that will ruin the force as a military organization and render it next to useless in time of need? Why of course it will, but if the volunteers should be called out for active service against one or two hundred badly armed, half starved semi-savages you can get your 5,000 to 6,000 men within three-quarters of a mile of the enemy's trenches and then make a brilliant bayonet charge that will cover three days. You will thus get to the trenches within 48 hours from the time the enemy had retired and every paper in the country will be singing your praises as the greatest soldier of modern times. When you come back covered with glory and decorations, and perhaps a Parliamentary grant, you will acknowledge that I was right. Above all, do not disturb the existing position of affairs. Let it be your maxim that 'Whatever is is right'."

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 14 May 2017

Lessons Learned by the Wehrmacht, Poland (1939)
Topic: The Field of Battle

Lessons Learned by the Wehrmacht, Poland (1939)

The German Campaign in Poland (1939), by Robert M. Kennedy, Major, Infantry US Army, April, 1956

Bock expressed the opinion that the old adage "The infantry must wait for the artillery" should be changed to "The artillery may not delay the infantry."

Conclusions; General

The German campaign in Poland in 1939 has been regarded by many as little more than a maneuver for the youthful Wehrmacht. However, the casualty figures and losses in materiel for the period of combat show that the campaign was more than an exercise with live ammunition. Rundstedt supported this view on operations in Poland in one of his rare commentaries following World War II. The bulk of the German armed forces had to be committed to overcome the Poles, and the expenditure in ammunition, gasoline, and materiel was such as to preclude concurrent German operations on a similar scale in the west or elsewhere.

The unrealistic impression of the campaign was heightened by the German propaganda effort that proceeded apace with operations in the field. The German armies were depicted as highly motorized, with tank support out of proportion to the actual number of armored vehicles they had available, and with fleets of aircraft supporting ground units on short notice with maximum efficiency. Little mention was made of the horse drawn supply columns, of the infantry divisions which often marched on foot at the rate of 30 miles per day, or of the repeated Luftwaffe bombings of advance German units.

The exaggeration of the picture of the new German war machine should not be construed to mean that the Wehrmacht was not a most effective fighting organization and had not accomplished much in putting the theory of mobile warfare to the test of battle. "Panzer" division and "Luftwaffe" soon became familiar terms in English and other foreign languages. It was obvious even to those not versed in military affairs that the era of trench warfare on the World War I pattern had ended. The element of movement had been restored to war, even though fewer than one in six of the German divisions mobilized during the period of the Polish Campaign were Panzer or motorized divisions. Except for the XVI and XIX Corps, the German Panzer force had also been committed piecemeal, and full ad vantage was not taken of the shock power of the Panzer division in the campaign in Poland.

The opportunity for a successful Allied attack against the Westwall had passed by the time the Polish Campaign ended. Hitler and his generals were well aware of the risk they had taken in throwing almost all their resources into the gamble for a quick victory in the east, as exemplified in their redeployment of divisions and higher commands from the Polish theater to the Westwall before operations in Poland had been completed.

The situation faced by the British and French in October 1939 was that of a fait accompli. Germany had defeated Poland completely and redeployed to the Westwall forces sufficient to withstand a belated Allied offensive. Adolf Hitler's success in Poland also enhanced the Fuehrer's opinion of his own abilities as a strategist and further encouraged him to deprecate the advice of his military staff and senior commanders. Germany's increasing strength and the continued in activity of the Western Allies soon inclined Hitler to order planning to commence for a fast-moving campaign to subjugate France and destroy the British Expeditionary Force. Only the onset of winter and the strongest objections from his military advisers prompted Hitler to delay his campaign until the following spring.

Lessons Learned by the Wehrmacht

The German forces took advantage of the opportunity to observe the effectiveness and utility of their new weapons and other materiel, organization, and tactics in combat operations in Poland and a number of improvements were found necessary. Some changes could be made before the campaign in France the following spring, while others would have to wait.


Among the infantry weapons, the Model 1934 machine, gun was found to be subject to frequent stoppages in rugged field use, particularly in muddy or dusty areas. Research on a new machine gun was accelerated, and the Model 1942 that evolved would continue to operate despite exposure to many of the conditions that hampered the use of the Model 1934 weapon.

The higher rate of fire of the 1942 machine gun was to be of considerable significance in later operations. The effort expended by Germany in the development of artillery of all types was found to be justified. According to Colonel Blumentritt, operations officer for Rundstedt, the Poles themselves testified to the effectiveness of the German artillery fire in the attack on War saw. The defenders had received warning of air attacks with the appearance of German aircraft and the bombing had been of limited duration. The sustained artillery fire, however, wore down the resistance of the garrison of the Polish capital.

The 88mm antiaircraft gun was found to be especially effective in engaging bunkers and prepared fortifications. The VIII Corps made reference to this of the new gun in attacking the Polish fortifications at Nikolai. According to the VIII Corps account, the gun could penetrate the walls of bunkers and buildings reinforced as strongpoints.

The German Mark I tanks were found to be unsatisfactory in operations, and the Mark II tanks were useful only for reconnaissance. This served to confirm the belief that these tanks were too light for operations and should be replaced by heavier types. Panzer units were henceforth equipped with a larger proportion of Mark III and Mark IV tanks. The heavier of the two, the Mark IV tank, was singled out by Guderian as a highly effective weapon to be produced in quantity. The Mark II tank was utilized for a time as a reconnaissance vehicle, and eventually the Mark I and II tank chassis were utilized as gun platforms for the self-propelled gun units organized for assault operations. In general, the supply of spare parts and system of maintenance for tanks was found to be inadequate for the needs of Panzer units in combat.

The rapid and overwhelming successes and light personnel losses of the new German tank force in the Polish Campaign, as illustrated by the movements of the XIX Corps across the Polish Corridor and from East Prussia to Brzesc, convinced Hitler of the effectiveness of this new weapon. In 10 days of operations the XIX Corps covered 200 miles in its drive on Brzesc. Polish reserve units still assembling in the rear areas were completely surprised and destroyed before they could organize a defense. In an action at Zabinka, east of Brzesc, elements of the XIX Corps interrupted the unloading of tanks at a rail siding and destroyed the Polish armored unit before is could deploy and give battle. The corps' losses totalled 2,236, including 650 dead, 1,345 wounded, and 241 missing, less than 4 percent of Guderian's entire force. Henceforth, as in the coming French Campaign, Panzer units were to play an increasingly important part in German planning.


Guderian recommended that battalion and regimental headquarters of Panzer units be located farther forward to direct the battle. Headquarters should be more mobile, restricted to a few armored vehicles, and well equipped with radio communication. The XIX Corps commander also recommended better communication with the supply columns and trains of the armored and motorized units.

The light divisions were found to have little staying power in sustained operations in Poland. These divisions already had at least one tank battalion each. The addition of a sufficient number of tanks to form a tank regiment for each division made it possible to complete the planned conversion of all four light divisions to Panzer divisions, bearing the numbers 6 through 9.

The motorized infantry divisions were found to be unwieldy in operations in Poland. To permit better control, one motorized infantry regiment was detached from each of the motorized divisions.


Some infantry commanders complained of the awkward and heavy packs carried by the troops, recommending changes to permit the individual soldier greater freedom of action and more comfort. One commander recommended the carrying of machine gun ammunition by the ammunition carriers of gun crews in containers similar to those used by mortar crews, i.e., in a special pack carried by the individual soldier rather than in boxes carried by hand. This would permit the ammunition bearer to operate a rifle, giving the gun crew more protection and fire power. In addition a special grenade sack was recommended for the individual soldier. It was also requested that one rifleman in the infantry squad be provided with a telescopic sight to permit accurate fire on small or more distant targets.

The 57th Infantry Division prepared a report on its experiences illustrating a number of the small oversights that added to the problems of the commanders of lower units. The division was a Wave II organization composed largely of reservists who had recently completed their periods of active service. During their two years of active duty, the men had been trained on the Model 1934 machine gun. When they were mobilized for the campaign in Poland, many did not know how to operate the older World War I type weapon with which some Wave II units were still equipped. Another oversight was the supply of horseshoes, made to a size common to military horses but far too small for the splayed hooves of many farm horses requisitioned at the time of mobilization.

Some fault was found with the equipment carried by assault engineers. Their heavy gear made it difficult for the engineers to carry out their assault role with the infantry. It was recommended that their equipment be so distributed that the engineers would be able to operate effectively as part of the infantry-engineer team in assault operations.

Training and Tactics

The infantry tactics of the Germans were criticized by Bock, who felt that too much was sacrificed to caution. This may seem somewhat contradictory, in view of the brief period of time in which the Ger mans destroyed a Polish force almost as strong as their own numerically and captured a number of heavily fortified areas that the Poles defended stubbornly. Bock actually had reference to the frequent delays incurred when artillery had to be brought forward to the sup port of infantry units. The general felt that some artillery batteries should always be attached directly to infantry units, to give close support in an attack or movement forward. The remainder of the artillery should be sufficiently mobile to move forward to support at tacking infantry with little delay. Bock expressed the opinion that the old adage "The infantry must wait for the artillery" should be changed to "The artillery may not delay the infantry."

Bock further felt that the German infantry training directives were obsolete and verbose. The commander of the northern army group was of the opinion that these regulations should be shortened and should stress the mission and aggressive action to accomplish it. Brief and pertinent regulations would be easier to remember and would impress on the officer, noncommissioned officer, and soldier the all-important task he was to perform in combat, with minimum distraction.

Another characteristic of warfare in eastern Europe as learned by the Germans was the considerable guerrilla activity in rear areas. As a consequence, it was recommended by a number of commanders that supply trains, workshops, and other rear installations be better equipped with weapons, particularly automatic weapons, and support personnel trained in their use.

The successful night attacks of the Poles made a considerable impression on the Germans. Although already aware of the advantage of moving by night, a device they used repeatedly, the Germans did not fully appreciate the potentialities of attacking under cover of darkness until shown by the Poles. With adequate security, these operations could cause considerable confusion when launched at the boundaries between units, as demonstrated by the Polish night attack of 12 September at the junction of the 207th Infantry Division and Brigade Eberhard lines before Gdynia.

Air Support

The Luftwaffe in Poland succeeded in proving its offensive power as an attack weapon, despite the protests of some senior army commanders whose troops had been bombed in close support operations. The Luftwaffe demonstrated its capabilities in isolating the Polish front by bombing bridges and rail lines, and preventing the movement of Polish supplies and troops by bombing and strafing truck columns on the roads. The Luftwaffe also rendered material assistance to advancing German armored columns and dive bombed Polish fortifications prior to attack by the ground forces. From this point the Luftwaffe was to have an important role as part of the German attack team.

The complete cover given ground forces by the Luftwaffe in Poland worked a disservice to the Army as far as camouflage was concerned. Despite instructions, there was little actual need for advancing units to utilize available cover and concealment at halts; for artillery to put up camouflage nets to hide guns, ammunition, and prime movers; or for command posts to limit vehicular traffic in their immediate vicinity. The Polish Air Force was unable to take advantage of this laxity on the part of many units, and the pace of the campaign made it impossible for higher commanders to take corrective action while operations were still in progress. As a consequence, a poor start in camouflage discipline was made by many units, and the lack of offensive action by the Polish Air Force made it impossible to point out examples of what might occur were the Wehrmacht to be committed against an enemy possessing an air force comparable to the Luftwaffe.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 13 May 2017

US Army Soldier's Handbook (1966)
Topic: US Armed Forces

US Army Soldier's Handbook (1966)

Each Individual in this nation has the duty to contribute as much as he can to the wellbeing of the nation and its people. Military service is one form of such a contribution.

You, An American Soldier

When you entered the Army, you raised your right hand and swore that you would bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America, and that you would serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies whomsoever. This is a sacred oath token by you and there is a great trust placed in you by the people of America that you honor this oath.

As you look around you will not find a "typical American soldier" in height, weight, color of eyes and hair, family origin, education, wealth, intelligence or similar characteristics. The soldiers you hove met and will meet are from all walks of life and all parts of our country. But all of you have two things in common. first, you are all serving the United States of America and believe in the principles that make it a free country. This not only gives you a common bond with your fellow soldiers but also guarantees you the same chances as the next man to get ahead. This American tradition is cherished in your Army as it is in all phases of American life. Second, the responsibility of all Americans is outstanding in the world today. The spirit of teamwork instilled in you at home, school and church, at work and play, aids in the cooperation needed for you to meet any and all tasks.

The habits of obedience you learned while growing into maturity are a necessary part of Army life. Obey promptly and cheerfully the orders given to you. Obedience and teamwork will make your performance better and your fellow soldier's tasks easier.

Service in the Army is a duty and a privilege. Each Individual in this nation has the duty to contribute as much as he can to the wellbeing of the nation and its people. Military service is one form of such a contribution. From the oldest times It has been considered a privilege to be permitted to bear arms in the defense of one's nation or people. This privilege is afforded only to those who are individuals of good standing and good reputation.

Army History

To write a full history of the United States Army would not be appropriate for this handbook. However, here are some historical highlights that may interest you.

The United States Army has its origin in the colonial militia. On 14 June 1775, the Continental Congress voted to adopt the militia and volunteers, fighting the British around Boston, as the Colonial Army. These were Infantrymen; so the Army is the senior of the services and the Infantry the senior branch of the Army. This Army defeated the British.

Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown on 19 October 1781 ended the last major battle of the Revolution. The formal treaty of peace was signed on 3 September 1783. The Indian wars followed and the Army inherited the job of guarding the frontier against Indian tribes. The Army continued to do this job for a century, a job which coiled for great endurance, skill, bravery and patience.

During the war of 1812-15 our Army again fought the British on American soil. The 30 years of peace that followed actually spanned three other wars. In 1817, the Seminole War; in 1832 the Black Hawk War; and from 1832-42 the second Seminole War.

The War Between the States, 1861-65, Civil War, was a tragic and bitter conflict. Within a year soldiers of both armies were veterans, fighting with a skill rarely surpassed by any country at any time, World War I saw our Army enter the conflict in 1917. Early in the fall of 1918 the Allies began on attack that did not stop until the war was won. American doughboys had a rough sector to take known as the Meuse-Argonne. In this area they showed ability to dish it out, as at the Marne; they had proved they could "take it." Their attack helped force the enemy to ask for on armistice in November 1918.

World War II. In 1918 the American soldiers thought they had helped "to end all wars." On 7 December 1941, we were once again at war. This war was different, even more than in the first war our soldiers fought as individuals; no more did they know the companionship of trench fighting, but fought from individual positions and the name "foxholes" was born. Many battles were fought in all parts of the world. The supreme assault come on 6 June 1944 on the Normandy Peninsula in France and our soldiers began the bitter advance. On 7 May 1945 the war in Europe was over and Japan surrendered on 14 August 1945.

The Korean War was a further test of American fighting ability and as part of the United Nations the American soldier again proved he was a determined fighter who could function under nearly impossible conditions. The conflict ended on 27 July 1953 adding another page of glorious history to the United States Army.

Today, communism is the major threat to our Nation. This threat is the primary reason for the Army ta constantly train men as part of the U.S. fighting force. Your training and eventual performance of duty with a unit is a vital part of this Nation's defense.

The Senior Subaltern

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

How It Works: The Rangefinder (1915)
Topic: Militaria

How It Works: The Rangefinder (1915)

The Illustrated War News, 31 March 1915

The Range-finder, as the name implies, is an instrument for ascertaining the distance to any visible point on the landscape from the position occupied by the observer, or operator, who is known as the Range-Taker. Range-finders are of two types: the double-observer type, such as the Mekometer, or Telemeter, used in our own service; and the "one-man" type. In both cases the distance to the object (or range) is found by triangulation, the angles being taken from the ends of a known base…a very short base of about three feet in the case of the one-man range-finder, and a normal base of fifty yards for the Mekometer artillery instrument, and twenty-five yards with the infantry instrument.

(Click to expand.)

Fig. I on the opposite page illustrates the Mekometer instrument in use, and shows clearly the base, which is the known length of cord stretched between the two instruments, held by the two observers. The man, marked A, with the reading instrument sights an object (in this case, a church) of which the range is required. The second man, marked B, advances until he can, through his right-angling instrument, see both the same object and the sighting-vane on A's instrument. When these two coincide, he shouts "On," and A, by turning the range-drum on his instrument until he also makes the reflection of B's sighting-vane coincide with the object seen in the instrument, is then able to read the range off the range-drum in yards. This instrument was employed at the time of the South African War, but owing to its having a very long base (25-50 yards), and requiring two men to operate it, was found extremely difficult to use because of the lack of cover. In one-man range-finders the base is a bar, or frame, of short length, with a telescope mounted at each end, and having an eye-piece in the middle into which the rays are reflected. With this instrument, measuring only 37 inches long by 3 inches in diameter, and weighing 5 ½ lb., one man is able rapidly and accurately to take ranges of objects up, to 20,000 yards distant. In taking the range the operator directs the telescopes of the instrument on to a clearly defined object, and by turning the range-drum (Figs. 3 and 2) the right-hand telescope is inclined inwards until the two images seen in the central eye-piece coincide. The range given on the drum can then be read.

A typical one-man range-finder is illustrated, diagrammatically, in Fig. 6. It shows the two telescopes already mentioned running at right-angles to the single eye-piece fixed in the centre of the range-finder tube. The rays from the distant object entering the end apertures (a a) of the range-finder base, are received by the left and right prisms and transmitted through the left and right objectives towards the central reflectors, which reflect them outwards through the eye piece. The observer looking into the eyepiece will see the field of view divided by a thin "dividing line." Anything seen above this horizontal line is formed by the left-hand telescope, and that seen below the dividing-line by the right-hand telescope (Figs. 4 and 5). The view will be similar to the images shown in Fig. 4. before coincidence. By turning a drum, these images can be brought into coincidence, and the correct range can be read from the range-drum.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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