The Minute Book
Thursday, 27 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 2)
Topic: CEF

Trench Relief is Dangerous Piece of Work, Says Lieutenant Mitchell

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

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 23 November 1917

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

The problem of trench relief is a very difficult one, especially to troops who are going in the front line for the first time or even to experienced men when they have to occupy trenches which are new to them. Reliefs are always made at night and it is considered an unusual opportunity to inflict damage upon the enemy when it is possible to know that a relief is taking place.

During the relief the trenches hold twice as many men as there is accommodation for. The communication trenches are usually crowded with men passing up and down. If any unusual noise or activity is observed by the enemy, a bombardment may be started which would cause demoralization and heavy loss of life.

The relieving troops leave the camps or billets by daylight and proceed as near as possible to the front lines, and wait until it becomes dark enough to enable them to be free from observation during the relief. Each platoon, consisting of from 35 to 60 men, moves forward under command of the lieutenant, as an individual unit. Every platoon is met by a guide sent back from the platoon which it is to relieve. The guide then leads the platoon into the sector of the platoon which it is to relieve, and the different positions are exchanged as rapidly and as quietly as possible.

Each man of the relieving platoon carries his day's rations, water, ammunition and periscopes with him. Bombs, rifle grenades, flares, rockets, etc., are known as "trench stores." They are left in the trenches and handed over from one platoon to another, thus cutting down the amount of supplies which necessarily has to be carried in with each relief.

As has been stated before, every precaution is taken so that the enemy may not be aware that the units in the trenches have been relieved. The same amount of firing and the same quantity of flares are sent up by the relieving troops after they have taken up their position as has been done by the men who have held the trenched preceding them, and in most cases, even though the enemy trenches are only 35 or 40 yards away, reliefs are accomplished without difficulty. After being relieved the troops who have held the trenches get clear as rapidly as possible, their one idea being to get back to more comfortable surroundings. In some cases troops after being relieved in the front line are sent back into support and reserve positions and then forward into the front line again before being finally relieved.

The return from the trenches to billets is a very tiresome journey, as the men are tired, sometimes wet, and the march is fatiguing after the time spent in the trenches, during which there is little movement. On arrival in camp, breakfast, including plenty of hot tea, is served, and the day is spent in rest and cleaning up. The next day, if possible, men are given hot baths at the army bath houses and fresh clothing and as soon as this is done training again starts and is continued without pause until they are again called upon for duty.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 26 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 1)
Topic: CEF

Canadian Officer Who Saw Service in France Discusses Trench Warfare

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

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 22 November 1917

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

The American soldier on his arrival in France will find himself confronted with the hardest and most difficult work he has even undertaken in his life, in order to prepare him for service in the trenches. The training he has been given before leaving the United States will be of great value to him, but it is found that men in training under the instruction of officers and non-commissioned officers who have actually seen service at the front, and where all the modern devices of trench warfare are available, will in most cases learn far more rapidly and thoroughly than they would at home.

It may be borne in mind that while aircraft and artillery play important parts in war, all battles are decided by the infantry at close quarters, and that all training is carried on with this end in view.

First of all, the American soldier will be brought to the highest standard of discipline and physical fitness and his training will start at the very fundamentals of the manual of arms and simple movements and finally culminate in sham attacks in which his whole regiment will act as a unit. Portions of the German trenches will be duplicated from airplane photographs and the advance will be made under conditions as realistic as possible.

Before this last step can be taken, he must learn many things. Bayonet fighting is of the highest importance, and training for this form of fighting is carried out, not with the idea of teaching a man a number of difficult but picturesque poses and thrusts, but simply with the idea that when he meets a German face to face he will know that he is the better man and that he will be able to dispose of his antagonist in the shortest possible time.

Bombing is also taken up, first with dummy bombs and then with the live ones. Each man will be carefully taught what to do in case of a gas attack and the final part of his training in this respect will consist of an actual experience on the training grounds of what a gas attack really is.

The American army has long been considered one of the straightest and best shooting armies in the world, and the experience of the British army in the early part of the war proved how valuable this training is. In spite of the time spent in training with other arms, musketry will not be neglected, and a large amount of practice will be carried out on ranges under actual service conditions, the targets representing the enemy. A large proportion of the infantrymen will be trained as machine gunners, as this arm is playing an more and more important part in the warfare at the front. Other men will be trained in the operation of trench mortars.

All this training will be carried out in very gradual stages. Men will be under the instruction of their own officers and also of French and British officers, but as further American contingents arrive in France, more and more American officers will be used for instructional purposes. While the infantryman is carrying out his training as detailed above, the artillery, medical corps and quartermaster corps will also be training along lines which will make them as proficient in their work as the infantry.

The final step in the training takes place when the United States troops are sent in to the front line trenches for an instructional tour under the guidance of the troops that have held that sector for some time. After the tour is completed the troops will be considered finally trained and fully capable of holding any section of the line which is assigned to them.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 7 October 2016

Given Ranking as Members of CEF
Topic: CEF

Given Ranking as Members of CEF

Members of the Headquarters staff and those employed in Canada in organizing or training corps for overseas are members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Order Issued by Militia Department Appreciated by Men Serving at Home

Ottawa Citizen, 17 May 1917

Members of the Headquarters staff and those employed in Canada in organizing or training corps for overseas are members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

This is made clear in an order which has just been issued by the Militia department. While those doing duty at home are thus given their ranking as among the C.E.F. thay are not entitled to the special pay or allowances for those who go overseas.

This notice will provide a welcome announcement to officers and men who are affected by the regulations. Many of them were prevented from going overseas, being retained in this country by the military authorities to carry on the organization and training of Canada's new troops. Others were recalled from service at the front to take up the work of training and supervising the troops in this country. At times the allegation has been made by people who were ignorant of the fact that these men were enjoying "soft" jobs, and were not doing their bit. But now the militia department has officially recognized them as full-fledged members of the Expeditionary Force, and has thus has shown the value of their services.

The Order

The order, as published by the Department of Militia and Defence, reads:—

"The Canadian Expeditionary Force is composed of the following classes of the Canadian Military Forces, namely:

"Those officers and men, who, during the present war have been are, or in the future shall be, serving under the government of the United Kingdom outside of Canada but in the pay of the Dominion Government.

"Those officers and men of the Canadian Military Forces who, during the present war have been are, or in the future shall be, serving in Canada with units intended to be sent overseas.

"Those officers who, during the present war, have been, are, or in the future shall be, serving as members of the Militia Council, and those officers and men of the permanent staff, and of the active militia, who have been, are, or in the future shall be employed in organizing, administering and training the units intended to be sent overseas.

Those officers and men of the permanent force of Canada, who, during the present war, have been, are, or in the future shall be, employed on garrison duty in Canada, or on instructional duties in connection with the units intended to be sent overseas.

"Nothing herein contained shall authorize or entitle the officers and men aforesaid to receive the special pay and allowances granted to the Canadian forces serving overseas, but they shall continue to be entitled to such pay and allowances as are prescribed for them by law and regulations."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 22 September 2016

Montreal Tailor; Officers' Kit (1915)
Topic: CEF

Montreal Tailor; Officers' Kit (1915)

From the 20 November, 1915, edition of The Montreal Gazette comes this advertisement of officers' uniforms and kit. As officers were responsible to provide their own equipment, tailors who likely had a well established business providing for the officers of the Canadian Militia were ready to expand into this new area supporting the officers and men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

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Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 31 August 2016

CEF Traffic Men
Topic: CEF

CEF Traffic Men

Story of Death in Village on Western Front

The Pittsburgh Press, 14 April 1918

With the Canadian Army in the Field, April 13.—If you should happen to wander into this village—either on duty or on pleasure—you will notice that many of its houses are roofless, that what were shops are in some instances nothing but demolished wall and broken beams, that numerous cottages are closed, and that many dwellings are marred by broken windows and lesser damage. If you are unlucky you will hear the warning whine of a shell, and you may be deafened by an explosion and smothered in dust while flying debris plays havoc around you. If not, you may meet the cure, and he will tell you the history of the slow demolition of a town which the enemy is slowly reducing to a ruin and a memory. It is a long story, covering a period of nearly two years. It was penetrated by shells and by death, and it is the history of many such a town and many a village throughout the war area in France and Belgium. It was in the middle of May, 1915, that the first four shells fell into the town. Then week by week bombardment followed bombardment, sometimes two and three a day. Some of the townspeople left, but courage runs high in France, and most of them stayed. Their homes were laid waste in a day. As the air war developed other homes were destroyed in the night, the horror of blackness adding to the horror of bombs and shells. Fathers lost daughter—mothers sons—the cure grew old because of broken hearts and the cemetery of the little church and filled before its time. But the day's work went on as it is going on now. And the fields were tilled as they are being tilled today, with the women working while the men fight. Such is the ordeal which is part of the tragedy of France, such is the spirit of her people which is her glory.

The Traffic Man

The cure will finish his story. You will leave on your way to the front or back to the base and, as you go, you will ask for directions at the first cross roads. You will be sent five miles out of your way and be bogged in a hopeless road, but you will swear respectively, for he who directed you wore the red arm band of the traffic control. His kind were at Vimy and on the Somme, at Ypres and Passchendaele. "Her Majesty's Jollies," you will remember, "stood still to the Birkenhead drill—a damn tough bullet to chew." From the middle of October to the middle of November when the Canadian corps was fighting the battle of Bellevue Farm, the Passchendaele spur, the Village and the Ridge—the traffic men stood at corners of roads that led in and out of Ypres. They stood there—that was their business. By day, enemy airmen bombed those roads, sometimes coming over in squadrons of 10, 15 and 20 machines. "Parti Tout Suite" was the popular pastime under such conditions and muddy, shell-torn fields were green and pleasant. The traffic men stood to their posts. Some of them died. You could count the shells—one by one they would creep up a road. The traffic men counted them and counting, stayed where they were, Horses were killed. Lorries were blown into bits of torn machinery and kindling wood. All who could made for less public places. The traffic men could not. At night the enemy bombed and shelled. Men hastened up the roads, hurriedly fixing their gas masks. It was black and dreary and desperately lonely on the highways. The traffic men stood on their corners. Many were wounded. Others died. At times when they are heavily shelling the village you just left you will find the extra traffic patrols on duty. They will tell you where not to go. They know where the worst shelling is. They can count the shells and see the damage. They cannot leave their posts. Some of them are wounded. Some of them died. Their work is called "bomb proof" save when there is hell around. Then their drill is not less than the Birkenhead drill.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Failed to Register
Topic: CEF

Failed to Register

Toronto Militia Officer is Rounded-Up

The Montreal Gazette, 4 April 1918

Toronto, April 3.—A Toronto Militia officer was a compulsory addition to the army today, through the agency of the Dominion Police, because he had failed to comply with the regulations of the Military Service Act. The officer had neglected to register and, apparently, thinking he was not liable to be drafted, did not heed the warnings of the Dominion Police. As a result he was taken into custody on Monday and was turned over to the military authorities.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 1 August 2016

Amnesty Proclamation, Dodgers and Deserters
Topic: CEF

Amnesty Proclamation, Dodgers and Deserters, August 1918

The following proclamation was published in Canadian newspapers in August 1918. This image is taken from the 5 Aug 1918 edition of the Toronto World.

"A proclamation of conditional amnesty respecting men belonging to Class I under the Military Service Act, 1917, who have disobeyed our provcl;amation of 13th October, 1917, or their orders to report for duty, or are deserters or absent without leave from the Canadian Expeditionary Force."

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Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Why of the Trenches
Topic: CEF

The Why of the Trenches

Practical Points from a Practical Soldier on the Use of Front Line Positions, with Some Suggestions to the Men Who Are New at the War Game on the Routine and Life at the Extreme Front

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 29 September, 1917
By Captain David Fallon, M.C. (Late of the British and Australian Forces)

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

To those who have never interested themselves in military matters the trench fighting on the western front in Europe seems to be very new tactics, but to the student of military history it is more than two thousand years old. Never before, however, has it been so perfectly organized.

The first time in history field fortifications and obstacles in the field were used to keep back the attacking forces they were constructed in China. They were built by the then emporer of China to keep away marauding Tartarsand wild men of Northern Asia. The remains of this fortification system we know as the Great Wall of China, about 1,500 miles long, 300 feet high, and 50 feet in width.

Before the Romans attacked any position they would dig themselves in and build fortifications to hide their forces from their opponents. The American civil war developed much trench fighting, and a good example of this kind of warfare was seen in the Russo-Turkish War of 1878. At the battle of Plevne the Turks, under Osman Pacha, were seriously outnumbered in men and munitions. Osman Pacha, remembering an old axiom which says, "When a force is outnumbered in men and munitions they must build fortifications to be able to hold their own territory, for a trained man strongly intrenched is equal to forty of the opposing forces," told his army to "dig in." This maxim has proved still good, for at the battle of the Marne and the Aisne the British and french troops dug themselves in so quickly that the Prussians thought that they had literally disappeared.

One of the great defensive incidents of the war occurred in Belgium when General Leman, commanding the Leige defences, with only thirty hours' start made such fortifications that he was able for ten days to withstand the constant onslaught of five of the best trained and equipped corps of German forces.

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Although the intensive kind of fighting now in progress abroad is new to America, yet you possess, as I have learned, "the art of adaptation which seems to grow with you" and comes natural to many. You will, therefore, have no difficulty in adapting yourselves to the present kind of fighting, which you soon will be called upon to wage.

Trenches are systems of openings in the ground and fortified in such a way as to permit a soldier to reist an attacking force. The purpose of trenches is to protect men in them from fire and thus enable them to fight against more than their number of the enemy. There are three kinds of trenches, each for an entirely different purpose:—

  • First—Front line fire trenches, in which men fight.
  • Second—Sheltered trenches, in which the supports and reserves rest, protected from fire and also from the weather.
  • Third—Communicating trenches, which act as safe paths from the sheltered trenches to the fire trenches.

If you would become acquainted with trench life in winter dig a hole in the ground six feet deep and two feet wide, fill it three-fourths full with water and stand in it. Carry sixty pounds on your back and eight pounds on your head and get some one to throw water continuously over you. Your supply of food must first of all be dropped into the hole; then get the assistance fo two of your friends and tell them to keep up a continuous bombardment with bombs, which can be improvised by filling a jam tin with needles, old nails, and amonal—or any such explosive will do—then set the fuse, which should be lighted and thrown on the ground surrounding your position.

In summer dig the same hole at an abattoir an "carry on" as in winter.

This ought to give even the unimaginative some conception of trench life.

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Trenches serve the same purpose as armor used to against men without armor. In making armor, its shape, and thickness depended upon the sort of blows it would have to withstand, whether from swords or arrows. In the making of trenches in the same way the sorts of fire which they will have to guard against are the thing that decides what their shape will be. The sorts of fire which the Allies are subjected to are, first, rifles and machine guns, in which are used the same bullets, and therefore can be regarded as the same weapon; second, artillery fire.

In order to make trenches suitable for protecting men from these two kinds of weapons we must consider what the effects of their fire is in each case. Rifle bullets in this war are always fired at trenches from very short range, normally fifty to three hundred yards. The skim over the ground in a flat, level course and may be regarded at this short range as travelling in as direct a line as the rays of a searchlight. Therefore, as long as a man has any kind of bullet proof cover which hides him from the front he is safe.

A man during his first appearance in the trenches will be eager to look over the top of the parapet and see what all it means. Periscopes are provided for this purpose to obviate any chance of the man being hit. One day one of my men, after doing duty in the trenches for ten days without a wash or shave, looked into the periscope through the wrong mirror, and instead of seeing what was going on in No Man's Land he saw his own reflection in the mirror, but, not having seen his own reflection for some time, he dropped the periscope, rushed for his rifle and remarked, "There's a damned ugly Boche looking into my periscope.

Every night the front part of the trench should be inspected for breaches, which may be caused by regular sniping from the from the front. This is a regular practice of snipers, and many a man has paid with his life for this neglect. One day I took over some trenches, and the officer explained that they had lost one officer and six men before they tumbled to the game.

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Artillery shells fired from a distance of, say, two miles are fired upward in the air in order to carry such a distance, much as a baseball player throws the ball if he wishes it to reach a long distance. As a result of this, artillery shells as the approach a trench are falling as well as moving forward. They slant then somewhat like the rays of the sun. If the sun is high in the sky a man to get shelter behind a wall from its heat must crouch down and sit very close to it. To give protection from a shell the trench must be deep and have a steep side, under which a man can crouch. A shell may fall into a trench although it safely passes over the head of the man in it. It will then burst and probably will kill or wound the men in that length of trench. The war has produced many incidents where men have picked up a shell and have thrown it over the parapet, thus saving the lives of their comrades. It is necessary to prevent shells from falling into the mouth of the trench. To do this a trench must be short and narrow, so as to make the mouth of it as small as possible. A rule which you must remember is this:—

"The shorter and narrower a trench is the safer it is."

Again, "The lower a man can crouch in a trench the safer he will be from pieces of a shell which bursts close to the trench.' This brings another rule which must be remembered:—

"The deeper the trench the safer it is."

The continuous bombardment of these trenches levels them to the ground and keeps the men perpetually busy rebuilding them. Even when one is dog tired there must be no slackness or indifference in the reconstruction, otherwise men will pay the penalty for their lethargy. It is obvious that a trench not easily visible is less likely to be shelled than one which is conspicuous. From this can be formulated:—

"The better hidden a trench the safer it is."

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Artists, painters, and decorators are used to make screens with which to hide the artillery. If this were not done no battery could escape the eagle eye of the aviator. Dummy trenches are often made to amuse the boys in the trenches. A man is sent along with plenty of black powder, and during one of the bombardments he is told to light the powder. The thick black smoke which ensues catches the Boche's eye and he thinks that is where the guns are, so they train all the guns on the dummy trenches, much to the amusement of the boys.

In taking over a line of trenches the men are formed up and receive their food, water and ammunition. The are led by guides and are marched through the communicating trenches in single file to the front line trenches, some going to the support and others to the reserve lines. Units should not move along the trenches more than sixty strong, and men should not be too close together, for any shell that might drop into the communicator would kill or wound more than is absolutely necessary. This gives us another rule:—

"Don't crowd the communicator [trench]."

Officers, non-commissioned officers and men, on handing over their particular posts, should explain to the incomers the extent of the trench, who are on the flanks, dumps, continuity, bombs, ammunition, &c.

The usual routine in the trenches provides for the inspection of rifles twice daily—morning and evening, and every precaution must be taken to keep all other equipment in good order. The chief problem to be faced in the ordinary routine of trench work is to insure the maximum amount of work daily toward the subjection and annoyance of the enemy and the improvement of the trenches consistent with the necessity for every man to get the proper amount of rest and sleep. This can be done only by a good system. A definite programme and time tables of work must be arranged and adhered to as far as possible. A simple system by which a unit in the trenches obtains the material required for the construction and repair of the trenches has been worked out.

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In every regiment a "regimental workshop" is usually formed, the necessary personnel (from twelve to twenty men) being found in the battalions who are carpenters and artificers by trade. This establishment is as near to the trench line as possible consistent with the men being able to work in reasonable safety. Its functions are to make up the material obtained from the engineers into shapes and sizes suitable for carrying up to the trenches and to construct any simple device required for use in the trenches, such as barbed wire, knife rests, box loop holes, rifle rests, floor gratings, grenade boxes and sign boards for communicating trenches with which to guide one where to go.

The importance of working on a definite system and with a definite programme has already been emphasized. The essential requirements for a front line trench are:—

(a)     The parapet must be bullet proof.
(b)     Every man must be able to fire OVER the parapet with proper effect (that is, so that he can hit the bottom of his own wire).
(c)     Traverses must be adequate.
(d)     A parados must be provided to give protection against the back blast of high explosives.
(e)     The trace of the trench should be irregular to provide flanking fire and if the trench is to be held for any length of time:—
(f)     The sides must be revetted.
(g)     The bottom of the trench must be floored.

The following points come next in order of importance:—

(a)     The provision of good loopholes for snipers, at least one for each section of men in the trench.
(b)     The construction or improvement of communication trenches; there should be one for each platoon from the from the support line to the front line trench, if possible.
(c)     Listening posts, one for each platoon, pushed well ahead of the front line trench.

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A good system of observation and sniping is of the utmost importance in trench warfare. Usually every battalion has a special detachment of trained snipers working under selective officers or non-commissioned officers. Their duties are to keep the enemy lines under constant observation, note any changes in the line, any new work undertaken by the enemy, keep the enemy snaipers in check and to inflict casualties on the enemy whenever opportunity offers.

During a reconnaissance patrol I stumbled across a sap, which, coming from the Boche lines, made me suspicious that there was something doing at the forward end. I followed the sap until I spotted a Boche sniper, who was luxuriously entrenched in a bullet proof cage. Coming from the rear, the sniper did not hear my approach, so he fell an easy victim. On searching the post I discovered a telescopic rifle, plenty of ammunition, food, beer and German literature.

Communications in the trench line are established by telephone, but it must be realized that in the event of heavy shelling all telephone communications is likely to be interrupted, and an efficient alternative system of orderlies—runners—must be arranged and tested.

Most of the honors fall to the lot of the runners, and I recall one of my own orderlies who for forty hours carried messages to and from a heavily shelled position where my men and I were fighting for our lives. The position in question had been captured and retaken about ten times.

It must be clearly understood that trench fighting is only a phase of operations and that the instruction in this subject, essential as it is, is only one branch of the training of troops. To gain a decisive success the enemy must be driven out of his defences and his armies crushed in the open. The aim of trench fighting, therefore, is to create a favourable situation for field operations, which the troops must be capable of turning to account.

Although life in the trenches becomes very monotonous and dreary there is plenty of ground for humor, which relieves the nervous tension.

During these momentous times the thought of the soldier is:—"God for us all and every man for the side." the make audacity their battle cry, and these usually are the ones who return to relate the experiences of trench life.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 3 July 2016

Unruly American in CEF Wins Honors
Topic: CEF

Unruly American Fighting in Canadian Forces Wins Honors

"Black Marks" Erased by Unusually Daring Feats in Battle

1220 Pte G.F. Clark, D.C.M.

Citation for the D.C.M.

(8th Cdn. Inf. Bn.) "For conspicuous gallantry; he brought in a wounded man, under heavy fire, from close in front of the enemy fire. In doing this he was shot through the cap, but immediately went out again, and with great bravery, succeeded in recovering a machine-gun, which had been abandoned close to the enemy lines."

Citation for Bar

(Can. Cav.) "For conspicuous gallantry in action. He showed great determination and gallantry on patrols. Later with a corporal, he captured an enemy officer and shot an enemy soldier. He displayed greay courage and initiative."

The Milwaukee Sentinel, 28 February, 1918
By Lowell Mellett; Correspondence to The Sentinel from the United Press

London—According to my authentic friend, Ray Hay of Sunnyside, Wash., there's nobody in all the armies quite like Nobby Clark of the Fort Garry Horse. Nobby comes from somewhere in the U.S.A., but enlisted in the Canadian cavalry at Winnipeg.

His activities on various French fronts have won him the D.C.M. with the bar, the Military Medal with bar, the Croix de Guerre, the Legion of Honour, and the Cross of St George, the last named from the Russian government. He'd undoubtedly have the Victoria Cross for which he has been recommended, were it not for his "crime" record. Nobby is unruly. The penalties he has had to pay for his blindness toward discipline make up a long list.

But the other day he managed to have one black remark completely erased. It seems ninety days' field punishment had been ordered for him and he had only undergone four days of his term. The officer commanding—to make this sound technical one should say O.C.—observing changes taking place in the German trenches opposite, expressed a desire to know who his new enemies were. Nobby overheard him express it.

"Beg pardon, sir," said Nobby; "will you trade those papers you've got against me for a German soldier?"

"Yes," said the O.C.

Nobby disappeared and presently reappeared.

"Beg pardon, sir, gimme the papers."

"First show me your German," said the O.C.

"I've got him stacked outside the trench," said Nobby, "and if you don't give me the papers, I'll take him back."

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Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

1220 Private George Frederick Clark
8th Canadian Infantry Battalion, and Canadian Cavalry

Library and Archives Canada
Soldiers of the First World War

Clark, George Frederick

Service Record

Honours and Awards

A check of "Canadian Army; Honours–Decorations–Medals; 1902-1968," by Commander John Blatherwick (1993), identifies the following likely candidate for Nobby Clark:

DCM and Bar: Clark, G.F., Private, Cdn Cav

Clark's service record also notes the receipt of the Croix de Guerre, but there's no inditation he received the Military Medal, the Legion of Honour, or the Cross of St George.

"Black Marks"

Clark's service record does show that he was not the most disciplined soldier in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It should be noted that although the maximum term of punishment for Field Punishment No. 1 was, in fact, 90 days, this could only be awarded by Court Martial. A unit commanding officer was only permitted to sentence a guilty man to a maximum of 28 days Field Punishment.

"Nobby" Clark can be found in the Library and Archives Canada database of Courts Martial of the First World War, having been charged and tried for the following offence:

  • Name: Clarke, George Frederick
  • Date: 1916/05/16-1918/09/21
  • Rank: Private
  • Regimental number: 1220
  • Unit: 1st Canadian Divisional Mounted Troops
  • Date: 1916/05/16-1918/09/21
  • Offence: AA Section 8, 40, 41
  • Remarks: Threatening a superior officer / Conduct to prejudice of good order and military discipline / Murder Reference: RG150 - Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, Series 8, File 649-C-5438, Microfilm Reel Number T-8653, Finding Aid Number 150-5

The related note in Clark's file reads as follows:—

"In confinement awating trial 13 May 1916. Tried and convicted by Field General Court Martial of (1) When on Active Service using threatening language to his Superior Officer, (2) Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order and Military Discipline in that he said to Sergt. C.A. Martin "This is where I do 14 or 28 days or anything at all for you, will you take your licking now or after Stables<" and sentenced to 56 days Field Punishment No. 1, 16 May 1916. Confirmed by Lt. Col. Godson Godson, Camp Commandant, Canadian Corps, 1 June 1916.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 20 June 2016

Elmer Weber Gets Ten Years' Penal
Topic: CEF

Elmer Weber Gets Ten Years' Penal

Evaded Military Service Act—Sentence Commuted From Fifteen

The Toronto World, 6 February 1919

Elmer Joseph Weber, the young man of German descent, whose father is a reeve of the Village of Neustadt, near Owen Sound, was sentenced to 10 years' penal servitude as a defaulter under the Military Service Act, and the order was promulgated at Exhibition camp yesterday in the presence of the Canadian Garrison Regiment, drawn up in hollow square formation.

Captain R.A. Plato, regimental adjutant, read the sentence, and afterwards Weber was removed to detention barracks. He was taken to Kingston last evening.

The prisoner was tried before a general court-martial held in Toronto on Jan. 14, at which evidence was produced that showed him to have continually evaded military service ever since the passage of the act and therefore to have been a deserter. He is also alleged to have made unpatriotic remarks and to have said that he would shoot the first man who attempted to put him into the army. The findings of the court were forwarded to a committee of the Privy Council at Ottawa.

The committee officially stated that they had found that the trial had been conducted regularly and that the finding was properly made. The militia council was of the opinion that the sentence of the court, which was 15 years' penal servitude, should be confirmed. It was recommended, however, that the term of imprisonment should be reduced to 10 years, which was allowed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Some Difficult War Names
Topic: CEF

Some Difficult War Names

How They Are Pronounced

The Sydney Mail, 23 December 1914

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

Study of the war news and maps leaves the newspaper reader in the dark as to how the names of many of the places referred to should be pronounced. When the Germans first crossed into Belgium discussions were common on the question of pronunciation. One said Leeje, the other Li-eeje. Neither was right. The battered fort is pronounced Le-azh. Similarly there have been disputed as to what Ypres should be called. It has to suffer anything from Y-preeze to Yipray. Its now scattered townspeople call it Ee-p'r. The following list shows the correct pronunciation of some of the chief centres of fighting:—

Belgium

YpresEe-p'r
DixmudeDe-mud or Dis'mud (u heavy)
ThouroutToo-roo
LiegeLe-azh (a heavy)
BrugesBroozh
CharleroiSha-leh-rwa
GhentGent (French Gong)
Ostend(Accent on second syllable.)

France

RheimsReemz (French Rahnz)
LilleLeel
ArmentieresAr-mong'te-air
AisneAin
OiseWahs (a as in far)
MeuseMuz (u as in fur)
Arras(Accent on second syllable.)
CompeigneKom-pe-ain (e light)
La BasseeLah-bas-say (final a heavy)
CalaisKal'ay (final a heavy)
Vosges (long o)

Russia

WloclawekVlotslavek
PrzemyslZhem-is'l
JaraslauYa-ro-slow (final o obscure)
KielceKyel-tsch
CzenstochowoChens-to-kova
CracowKrako (a and o heavy)
WartheVar-the
WarsawVar-sha'va (accent on middle syllable)

While the above conveys the nearest approach to the local pronunciation that can be given in ordinary English characters, it is not considered incorrect to pronounce a foreign name or word in the manner in which the English spelling would ordinarily indicate; for none could be expected to memorise the peculiar pronunciations of every language on earth.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Some Difficult War Names
Topic: CEF

Some Difficult War Names

How They Are Pronounced

The Sydney Mail, 23 December 1914

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

Study of the war news and maps leaves the newspaper reader in the dark as to how the names of many of the places referred to should be pronounced. When the Germans first crossed into Belgium discussions were common on the question of pronunciation. One said Leeje, the other Li-eeje. Neither was right. The battered fort is pronounced Le-azh. Similarly there have been disputed as to what Ypres should be called. It has to suffer anything from Y-preeze to Yipray. Its now scattered townspeople call it Ee-p'r. The following list shows the correct pronunciation of some of the chief centres of fighting:—

Belgium

YpresEe-p'r
DixmudeDe-mud or Dis'mud (u heavy)
ThouroutToo-roo
LiegeLe-azh (a heavy)
BrugesBroozh
CharleroiSha-leh-rwa
GhentGent (French Gong)
Ostend(Accent on second syllable.)

France

RheimsReemz (French Rahnz)
LilleLeel
ArmentieresAr-mong'te-air
AisneAin
OiseWahs (a as in far)
MeuseMuz (u as in fur)
Arras(Accent on second syllable.)
CompeigneKom-pe-ain (e light)
La BasseeLah-bas-say (final a heavy)
CalaisKal'ay (final a heavy)
Vosges (long o)

Russia

WloclawekVlotslavek
PrzemyslZhem-is'l
JaraslauYa-ro-slow (final o obscure)
KielceKyel-tsch
CzenstochowoChens-to-kova
CracowKrako (a and o heavy)
WartheVar-the
WarsawVar-sha'va (accent on middle syllable)

While the above conveys the nearest approach to the local pronunciation that can be given in ordinary English characters, it is not considered incorrect to pronounce a foreign name or word in the manner in which the English spelling would ordinarily indicate; for none could be expected to memorise the peculiar pronunciations of every language on earth.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 23 May 2016

The Canadian Expeditionary Force
Topic: CEF

The Canadian Expeditionary Force

Canada's Part in the Great War, 3rd Edition, Issued by the Information Branch, Department of External Affairs, Ottawa, May 1921

In the late summer and early autumn of 1914, the First Canadian Division of 33,000 men was raised and sent across the Atlantic. It left Gaspe Bay on October 3, and, after nearly three months of additional training in England, landed in France, at St. Nazaire, on February 11, 1915. The Second Division was formed immediately and landed in France on September 14, when the Canadian Army Corps was formed. The formation of the Third Division was authorized just before Christmas, 1915, and the Division was in France early in 1916. The Fourth Division joined the Canadian Corps in the middle of August, 1916. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade appeared in France in 1915. After the completion of the Canadian Army Corps the policy of the Dominion was to maintain a comparatively small number of divisions, but always to keep these at full strength, in order that the troops might have the encouragement of full ranks.

Enlistments

The total number of men enlisted in Canada from the beginning of the war to November 15, 1918, was 595,441. The details are:—

Obtained by voluntary enlistment465,984
Drafted or reported voluntarily after the Military Service Act came into force83,355
Granted leave or discharged24,933
Overseas service other than C.E.F.:—21,769 
Royal Air Force12,902 
Imperial Motor Transport710 
Inland Water Transport4,701 
Naval Service2,814 
Jewish Palestine Draft42 
 595,441

The distribution of these men was as follows:—

C.E.F. proceeded overseas.418,052
Enlisted for Royal Air Force, etc.21,169
On the strength of C.E.F. in Canada and St. Lucia, including those under training as overseas reinforcements, Siberian Expeditionary Force, Canadian Garrison Regiment, Military Police Corps, Medical and Administrative Services, etc.36,533
On harvest leave without pay.15,405
Granted leave of absence without pay as compassionate and hardship cases.7,216
Number discharged in Canada who had not proceeded overseas for the following among other reasons, as below medical standard, absentees, aliens, to accept commissions, deaths, on transfer to British Army and Royal Air Force.95,306
Included in enlistment returns, for whom discharge documents have not been received, or in some cases duplicate enlistments. This number is being adjusted as further records are received.1,760
 595,441

In addition to the above, 14,590 British and Allied reservists went from Canada to rejoin the colours in their own countries.

Movement Overseas

The number of men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who had gone overseas on November 16, 1918, was 418,052.

The movement overseas by years was as follows:—

Before Decenber 31, 191430,999
Calendar year 191584,334
Calendar year 1916165,553
Calendar year 191763,536
January 1 to November 15, 191873,630

On September 30, 1918, about 160,000 men were in France and about 116,000 in England.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2016 8:36 PM EDT
Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Canadian Force at the Front (1918)
Topic: CEF

The Canadian Force at the Front (1918)

Each Division contained 19,000 to 20,000 troops, and there were about 10,000 Corps troops, making about 90,000 men in the Corps.

Canada's Part in the Great War, 3rd Edition, Issued by the Information Branch, Department of External Affairs, Ottawa, May 1921

The distribution of the Canadian troops in France and Belgium on September 30, 1918, was as follows:—

The Canadian Army Corps, forming part of the British Army, consisted of four Divisions and Corps Troops.

Each Division consisted of three Infantry Brigades, each of which was made up of four Battalions of Infantry and one Trench Mortar Battery, and the following Divisional Troops:

  • Artillery—Two brigades, two medium and one heavy Trench Mortar Batteries, and a Divisional Ammunition Column;
  • One battalion of the Machine Gun Corps;
  • Engineers—three Engineer Battalions, one Pontoon Bridging Transport Unit, and one Divisional Employment Company;
  • Divisional Train of four Companies;
  • Medical Services—three field Ambulances, one Sanitary Section and one Mobile Veterinary Section;
  • Divisional Signals of four Sections, one at Divisional headquarters and one with each Brigade.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

The Corps Troops were as follows:—

Corps Artillery: Three Brigades of Garrison Artillery containing twelve Siege Batteries and two Heavy Batteries, one Anti-Aircraft Battery of five sections, three Brigades of Field Artillery, two medium and one heavy Trench Mortar Batteries, one Divisional Artillery Ammunition Column, and two Motor Machine Gun Brigades.

Corps Engineers: Pontoon Bridging Unit, five Army Troop Companies, two Tramway Companies, and Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company and Corps Survey Section.

Corps Medical Services: One Field Ambulance, one Sanitary Section, the Dental Laboratory and the Veterinary Evacuating Station.

Corps Signalling Services: The Corps Signal Company, two Motor Aid Line Sections, four Cable Sections, four Brigade Signal Subsections and one C.D.A. Brigade Detachment.

Army Service Corps: Headquarters Mechanical Transport Column, seven Mechanical Transport Companies, one Divisional Artillery Mechanical Transport Detachment, one Artillery Brigade Park Section and one Divisional Train Detachment.

Ordnance Services: Three Ordnance Mobile Workshops.

Miscellaneous: Infantry School, Machine Gun School, Lewis Gun School, Signal School, Gas Services School, Instructors' Pool, Gymnastic Staff, Canadian Records List, Y.M.C.A. Services, Corps Military Police and two Railhead Army Post Offices. Labour Services—Labour Group Headquarters, four Labour Companies, a Pontoon Bridging Officers' Establishment and five Canadian Area Employment Companies.

Each Division contained 19,000 to 20,000 troops, and there were about 10,000 Corps troops, making about 90,000 men in the Corps.

The Canadian Cavalry Brigade formed part of the Third British Cavalry Division belonging to the Third Army and consisted of three Cavalry Regiments, a machine Gun Squadron, the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, a Signal Troop, a Field Ambulance and a Mobile Veterinary Section. There were about 3,000 men in the Brigade which was part of the Third Army.

The following Canadian Units, separate from the Canadian Corps, were attached to the five British Armies:—

First Army: Two Casualty Clearing Stations, one Sanitary Section, one Railhead Supply Detachment and two Battalions of Railway Troops.

Second Army: One Casualty Clearing Station, one Advanced Depot Medical Stores, two Battalions of Railway Troops, two Auxiliary Horse Transport Companies, one Field Butchery, two Depot Units of Supply, a Railhead Supply Detachment, and a Tunnelling Company.

Third Army: One Casualty Clearing Station, one Railhead Supply Detachment, three Battalions of Railway Troops and the Overseas Railway Construction Corps.

Fourth Army: One Medical Corps Mobile Laboratory, four Battalions of Railway Troops, one Light Railway Operating Company, and one Broad Gauge Operating Company.

Fifth Army: One Battalion of Railway Troops.

On the Line of Communications and attached to British General Headquarters were the following: Thirteen Depot Units of Supply, four Field bakeries, and two Field Butcheries, which were distributed at Boulogne, Calais, and Dieppe; six General Hospitals and six Stationary Hospitals, which were at eight different places; the General Base Depot, the Infantry Base Depot, the Machine Gun Base Depot, the Labour Pool, the Report Centre, the Command Pay Office, the Dental Store, two Field Auxiliary Post Offices, the base Post Office, one Veterinary Hospital, one Battalion of Railway Troops, one Wagon Erecting Company, and one Engine Crrew Company. The following troops of the Canadian Forestry Corps were distributed at eleven places in France: Sixty-three Forestry Companies, five District Workshops, one Construction Company, one Technical Warehouse, one Forestry Hospital, and two Detention Hospitals.

There were altogether about 160,000 Canadians serving in France on September 30, 1918.

The Canadian Army Corps was commanded by Lieut.-General Sir Arthur Currie, with the following divisional commanders: 1st Division, Maj.-Gen. A.C. MacDonell, 2nd Division, Maj.-Gen. Sir H.E. Burstall; 3rd Division Maj.-Gen. F.O.W. Loomis; 4th Division, Maj.-Gen. Sir D. Watson

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 8 May 2016

Infantry Battalion Oraganization, 1915-16
Topic: CEF

War Establishment of an Infantry Battalion for Overseas Service, 1915-16

The Organization, Administration, and Equipment of His Majesty's Land Force in Peace and War, First Edition, by Lieut.-Colonel William R. Lang, m.s.c., General Stafff (temporary), 1916

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 22 January 2016

More Native Canadians with Second Contingent
Topic: CEF

More Native Canadians with Second Contingent

Percentage Will Be Greater Than Was Alleged in the Case of the First Contingent—Many College Men in Ranks

The Journal of Commerce (Montreal), 24 October 1914

Reports from various parts of the country state that a larger percentage of native born Canadians are enlisting in the second contingent than went out with the first. In the first contingent it is said that only thirty per cent. of those who volunteered were native born Canadians, the remainder being British born, many of whom had some previous military training. Another factor noticeable in connection with the recruits for the second contingent is that they are a better type of men. The first contingent was largely made up of adventurers, while the recruits for the second contingent consist very largely of men holding responsible positions, who are throwing these up and going to the front from a sense of duty. Hundreds of college men will go out with the second contingent, while numbers of college professors from different universities have enlisted and are taking their places in the ranks. Business men from big corporations, banks, farmers' sons and others are vieing with one another in rallying to the call for men.

It has apparently taken some little time for the native born Canadian to realize the dangers confronting the Empire, and his own responsibility in repelling the world's War Lord. Recruiting officers declare that Canada's second contingent will be composed of the very flower of the country's young manhood.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 16 January 2016

Rum in the Trenches
Topic: CEF

Rum in the Trenches

Excerpted from "Canadian Medical Services Under Fire in the Commons," Ottawa Citizen, 7 February 1917

Gen. Alderson's Wet Canteen

Sir Sam Hughes stated that, profiting by experience at Valcartier, where one contractor had been found to have made $33,000 profit in three weeks, he had instituted the regimental dry canteen system in Canada and desired to follow suit in England. But in 1914 when he had gone to the Old Country he had been told that this matter was in General Alderson's hands alone. General Alderson had told the Canadian soldiers he was going to make free men of them with the wet canteen.

Hon. Charles Marell interjected to inquire on the issuing of rum to the troops in the trenches as a daily ration. Many people in Montreal were objecting to their sons running such risks.

Sir Robert Borden said he had never heard that rum was given to the men before going into action. It was merely a medicine.

Rum as a Stimulant

Sir Sam Hughes confirmed this with the statement that rum was allowed in the front line trenches as a stimulant for troops who often had to stand waist deep in cold water. Sir Sam said he took second rank to no man as a temperance advocate but did not want to hear any nonsense talked against this practice.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 11 January 2016

Tommy's Rum
Topic: CEF

Tommy's Rum

The Journal of Commerce (Montreal), 24 October 1914

Whatever may be said of the "dry canteen" in the military camps of Canada—a country in which "dry" regulations, of not actually "dry" conditions, prevail—one need not be surprised to learn that the British military authorities have set aside the prohibition as applied for a few days in the camps of the Canadian forces now on Salisbury Plain. While in Canada and on the voyage across the Atlantic the troops were under the control of the Canadian Militia Department. When they were settled on their training grounds on Salisbury Plain, they ceased to be technically a Canadian force; they became part of the Imperial army organization, and subject in all things to the British Army regulations. Tommy Atkins, as the British soldier is commonly called, possesses certain rights and privileges, including the privilege of obtaining beer and spirits in moderate quantities, if he desires them. The wisdom of allowing these privileges to the soldiers has sometimes been called into question, but the result of every discussion has been that the army authorities have decided against prohibition. The British officials permit the use of spirits and beer, but they endeavor to prevent the abuse of them, and they take much pains to see that the articles supplied for the troops are pure and unadulterated. A recent issue of an English paper gives an account if the War Office arrangements for the supply of rum for the soldiers, which is of particular interest at this moment:

"Now that the nights are beginning to be cold, Tommy Atkins in the trenches in France is beginning to feel the need of "something to keep out the cold." With timely forethought for the welfare of the British soldier during a prospective winter campaign, the War Office is sending to the front a consignment of 150,000 gallons of rum. The bottling of this quantity which in normal circumstances would probably represent an excise duty of something like £60,000, is being undertaken by the Port of London Authority, and the Rum Quay at the West India Docks offers a scene of exceptional activity even for a department which is accustomed to dealing with thousands of puncheons in the course of a year. The huge vats at the West India Docks, which have an aggregate capacity of 58,500 gallons, are of course available for the blending of of this Army rum. All of it is genuine sugar cane product, requiring no addition of spirit, since it is already much over proof. Some of it was imported in 1911, and some in succeeding years, but the age is not necessarily indicated by the date of importations. Emerging from the vats 4.5 per cent. (sic), under proof, the rum is measured by the gallon and passed through funnels into stoneware jars of the customary type, and each of one gallon capacity. The jars are then corked and sealed with the seal of the Port Authority. The next stage is the packing of the rum. For convenient handling it is placed in wooden cases, which accommodate a couple of jars. The case us kept to a size which can easily be lifted by one man, so as to give as little trouble as possible in distributing the rum among widely scattered troops. Each case bears an intimation that it forms part of army supplies. About 3,000 jars of the rum are sent away each day. The destination is Newhaven via Willow Walk Railway Station. From the Sussex port the consignments go to the most convenient Continental port, thereafter to be forwarded to the base of operations. Large supplies of jars, of which a total of 150,000 will of course be required, arrive daily at the West India Docks. With the active co=operation of the Customs, the work of bottling proceeds until 6 p.m., instead of 4 p.m., as is usual in the case of bonded warehouses. In this way, and with the employment of a large staff of men, this big War Office order is in process of careful execution."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 8 January 2016

A Taste of Old Times
Topic: CEF

A Taste of Old Times

Buried on a World War I battlefield, Tiny's crock is full of liquid history.

By Stephen Franklin, Weekend Staff Writer
Weened Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 45, 1960
Ottawa Citizen, 5 November 1960

For a fortunate bunch of Old Sweats in Vancouver, the night of Saturday, Nov. 12, 1960, will be one to remember. On that night they will be swigging liquid history—the contents of a gallon crock that is, in a manner of speaking, a gift from King George V brought to them through the courtesy and artfulness of an under-age infantryman, 429278 Pte. Dudley Seymour. Yessir!

The occasion is the annual reunion of the survivors of the 7th Battalion, B.C. Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, and the very special tot they will be drinking is army-issue rum buried beneath a Flanders hedgerow at 7:30 A.M. June 3, 1916, and unearthed on a summer evening last year, if anyone can lay his hands on the nose of a German shell, he will drink the rum from it in true trench style. The toast will be a war that none can ever forget, to absent friends and, no doubt, to the man who hid the rum, dug it up and is pouring it, Tiny Seymour.

Today Tiny is a ham-fisted giant of a Vancouver Island logger, a yarn-spinning whisky-loving, plain-spoken man who lives on the shores of Georgia Strait in the village of Royston with his wife, his old war wounds and a case of diabetes. His life as a rum-runner, a timber cruiser and a successful small logging operator has given him the flavor and something of the appearance of a cross between Wallace Beery and W.C. Fields.

Oddly enough, it was an officer nicknamed Charlie Chaplin who set the whole chain of events in motion. Tiny was in No. 3 Company. "We were dug in behind the front line at Sanctuary Wood a mile down the Menin road from Ypres," (Seymour recalls), "and we were going up at 8 o'clock that morning (it was June 3) to try to hold where the Germans had broken through the Third Division.

"I was 17 then but I liked my rum and I fell in three different times that morning for my issue. Then Capt. Fielding called me over )I can't remember his first name, but we called him Charlie Chaplin. He was from down east and the son of a Chief Justice or something, I think, and he had a brother killed over there.)

'Anyway, Capt. Fielding said, "Private Seymour, take these two jugs of rum over to Major Ford.' 'But sir …' 'No buts, Seymour. We're in a hurry. On the double.' "

Tiny shrugged and did as he was told. Capt. Fielding apparently did not know what he did—that Maj. Ford ("He died in Montreal about four years ago.") was already a casualty, wounded by a german shell.

"I took the two crock of rum and headed down the communications trench to my own funk hole behind this hedge, dug quickly into the dirt, buried the crocks and hurried on back. I thought we could use it later that day."

At 8 A.M. 500 of them went in. Tiny came back with only 28 other men and three officers, but not to the same place. They re-grouped the remnants elsewhere, clear of the German bombardment.

Before long Tiny, who had enlisted when he was only 15 ½ and been shipped overseas as a replacement in 1915, moved on to the Somme and a third wound. Then, with his guardian angel working overtime, he was attached to the Royal Engineers engaged in countermining the Vimy tunnel. The Boches blew it up and of 49 men he was the only survivor, escaping with a stomach wound which sent him to hospital and home for good.

After his discharge in 1919 came roisterous years in the woods of Vancouver Island and aboard boats running rum down the Pacific coast to the U.S. in prohibition days. Gradually the two buried crocks of rum became more than the subject of just another yarn for the boys. They became an obsession. By last year Tiny could well afford a long trip to Europe. He and his wife took ship for Europe, hired an old poilu, René Coudray, and his seven-passenger Cadillac to drive them from Paris to the old battlefields and the unforgotten rum.

Tiny knew that Sanctuary Wood had been preserved as a memorial, helmets, rifles, unopened cans of bully beef strewn still where they lay, trenches, wire and no-man's land starkly reminiscent of the past. The Belgian caretaker told him he must have permission from the Canadian government to dig for his rum. "But," he shrugged, "I go off duty at 7 this evening."

That night 4 ½ feet down, Tiny's shovel scraped something solid. Up came the two crocks, strung together with the wooden tag on them marked "No. 3 Coy, 7th Battn."

Tiny and eight old comrades polished off the first gallon of rum at a truly memorable party in the Piccadilly Hotel in London a few weeks later. The rum was tangy but still good an potent.

Getting the other gallon crock into Canada was the hardest part of the entire 44-year saga. It took months of finagling, the assistance of a lawyer from his old regiment, an importer's license, $11.10 federal duty, $11.75 B.C. Liquor Board fees and $1.14 provincial sales tax. There was also the strong suspicion that somewhere along the line some so-and-sos had been checking the contents with their gullets instead of their noses, before Tiny finally took possession. He took a test swig there and then, under the disapproving eye of officialdom, pronounced the contents smoother than the first crock and stashed the rum determinedly away for Nov. 12, and the reunion.

Usually about 100 officers and men turn up at the Hotel Georgia for the affair. "I guarantee there'll be a lot more who'll turn up this year," grunts Tiny Seymour, "and every one of them ready to swear blind they were at Sanctuary Wood when I buried the rum."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 2 January 2016

Proud of Canadian Outfit
Topic: CEF

Proud of Canadian Outfit

Best Equipped Soldier in the World, Friends Claim
Complete Outfit Shown in Store Window Attracts Attention of Crowds

The [Spokane, Washington] Spokesman-Review, 3 October 1917

In proof of their contention that the Canadian soldier is the best equipped in the world, officials of the British and Canadian recruiting mission, W603 Sprague Avenue, yesterday placed the entire paraphernalia of a Canuck infantryman in the Riverside avenue window of the Owl drug store. With the figure of a soldier as the centerpiece the outfit fills virtually an entire window.

The soldier wears a complete uniform with puttees, army boots, Oliver belt equipment, knapsack, water bottle, ball pouches, haversack, cap and regimental insignia, and carries a Ross rifle with fixed bayonet. The rest of the equipment is displayed around him.

It includes a pair of canvas shoes and an extra pair of army boots, winter cap, overcoat, jacket sweater, overshoes, cap comforter, knitted, winter mitts, boot dressing, extra bootlaces, cloth, hair, shaving and tooth brushes, hair comb, two sets woolen underwear, knife fork and spoon, holdalls, housewife, clasp knife, service shirt and trousers, razor with case, two flannel shirts, two winter shirts, two pairs woolen socks, two hand towels, first field dressing, bottle water enamel, infantry whistle, mess tins ans trays, kit bag, bottle of oil, pull-through and lanyard clasp knife.

The complete outfit costs the Canadian government $95.31, and every soldier is given it the moment he enlists and reports for duty. The various pieces are replenished at the captain's order when one is worn out.

When the soldier lands in England his Ross rifle is supplanted by a Lee-Enfield, the official British arm, and his leather equipment is replaced by a web outfit. There he gets his entrenching tool. The Canadian soldier does not buy any part of his equipment except soap, and in the trenches he is furnished with soap, cigarettes, chewing and smoking tobacco and a dram of rum, which is issued daily. His entire equipment is kept up by the government.

Crowds of people were around the window all day yesterday and studied the outfit carefully. The most interested were the American soldiers.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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