The Minute Book
Thursday, 16 March 2017

Sir Sam Foresaw Need of Trenches
Topic: CEF

Sir Sam Foresaw Need of Trenches

Tells U.E. Loyalists He Recommended Siege Warfare in Germany Made War

The Toronto World, 16 March 1917

Disclosures hitherto unrevealed because of his official connection with the government as Canadian minister of militia and interesting information bearing upon his activities in that post were made by General Sir Sam Hughes in a review of practically all pertinent phases of Canada's part in the war in an address before members of the Toronto branch of the United Empire Loyalists in the Arts Association Building, 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, last night.

The most interesting perhaps was his revelation of a midnight meeting shortly after England declared war on Germany when Premier Borden called at Sir Sam's rooms in Ottawa.

"The prime minister was depressed with the news and asked my opinion," Sir Sam said, "I told him we were going to get the worst confounded licking and would be smashed if we didn't hold the line. Sometime previously I had taken with other Canadian officers what my critics chose to call a "junketing tour," in which I went abroad. I was the only colonel at an important war conference when Germany's plan of invading France was suspected and discussed. I recommended that trench warfare on a thirty mile front be adopted if Germany started. I said that an attempt to advance against german trained troops would be bordering on insanity. So when the prime minister had discussed the war as it was in the early stages with me I sent a cablegram to Lord Kitchener and Sir John French recommending my opinion again. But it was too late. The British and French had been pushed back to the Marne."

General Hughes declared that returned soldiers should not be pampered, but instead treated like men and given positions through government aid. He attributed present Canadian prosperity to the organization of the Canadian shell committee, which he first proposed and credited to Col. Thomas Cantley of new Glasgow, N.S., and himself with averting national bankruptcy in 1914.

The speaker attacked the so-called "labor shortage" belief, declaring that the agitation was due to influences working with German money. He said 1,000,000 single men in Canada were eligible for service and should be forced to the front. He justified his elimination of red tape while militia minister, complimented the valor of Canadian troops, and attributed much of the success of the militia department to the women of Canada.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bombing; Fiendish Way of Fighting (1916)
Topic: CEF

Fiendish Way of Fighting

Some of the Terrors and Humors of the Bomb

The Kingsville Reporter, Kingsville, Ontario, 22 June 1916

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

An Irish officer, writing from the British Front in Flanders about bombs and bomb-throwing contrivances, says:

The more you have to do with the bombs the more afraid of them you become, for you cannot play with explosives all day without going aloft sooner or later. The toll of good men who have been blown to pieces by their own bombs is long and sad.

Bomb-throwing as an art is still in its infancy; it changes almost from day to day. At best, it is a fiendish way of fighting, for it inflicts ghastly injuries.

Yet bombing, like many other aspects of the war, has its humorous side, and I have seen a whole trench helpless with laughter at the sight of two men running opposite ways to avoid a sausage bomb from a German trench mortar. They collided, and sat down facing each other, like vaudeville comedians. The bomb dropped between them, almost touching them both—and then failed to explode.

One morning twenty or more members of the general staff came round to our trench to witness a test of new catapult for throwing bombs to distance of two hundred and fifty yards. With great interest they watches the screwing down of the great arm and the fastening of the bomb in position. Then upward and forward swung the arm; but the missile, not having been properly secured, instead of hurtling in the direction of the enemy, rose gently a few feet into the air, and then turning to descend again into the trench.

Such a rapid and complete disappearance of staff officers had never before been seen. They fled like rabbits, and as they rounded the corner of the trench, the bomb went off a few feet from the ground, completely destroying the catapult.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Birds Sing Gaily Over the Trenches
Topic: CEF

Birds Sing Gaily Over the Trenches, Despite Gunfire

Soldiers Feed Plucky Songsters as Well as Great Variety of Pets Kept in Dugouts

The Windsor Evening Record, Windsor, Ontario, 3 March 1917

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

With the British Armies in France, March 1.—One of the distinct surprises to the newcomer at the war is to find larks singing over the front line trenches. One would think that birds of every sort had long since been driven far from the war zones, but, instead, they lurk in and about in great numbers. Very often the sudden flight of a covey from as secluded thicket or remnant of wood has given the first signal of a shrapnel attack.

The drumming of big guns, the "pat-pat-patter-patter-patter" of machine guns, the whirr and "bang" of "plum puddings" and "run jars" sent over by the enemy trench mortars, seen to have lost all terror to the feathered songsters. The chirp as gaily and loudly over the muddy "line" as if there was no such thing in all the world as war.

The British Tommy is very fond of pets. When he can safely do so he throws crumbs over the parapet for the larks, and if he had his way he would fill up every nook and corner of the trench with some sort of animal mascot. As it is, there is a strange mixture of pets and pests in these deep cuttings in the earth—the outposts of battle—where the men themselves live a sort of animal life. It is a life no human being was ever intended to live, and yet the health of the troops is positively amazing.

Rat Is Premier Pest

Of all the trench pests the rat, of course, by reason of his size, takes precedence. He is everywhere. No amount of cleaning up has tended to wipe him out. In fact he waxes fatter and fatter as the war goes on.

Of the pets the dog is by far the most numerous and popular. There are goats and cats and canaries and various species of mascot, but the dog becomes more a part of the life than any of the others.

Many a subaltern of company commander has gone "over the top" into battle with his dog leaping and barking happily beside him. Scores of dogs have been killed beside their masters and hundreds wounded. In the fighting about mametz, during the great "push" on the Somme, a Red Cross searching party came upon a pathetic little group composed of a subaltern his dog and four private soldiers, just as they had sprawled to their death in a burst of machine gun fire.

The dogs in the trenches have great fun chasing rats. They will even leap over the parapet after them into "No Man's Land." And sometimes old "Fritz" from the enemy trenches will snipe them. There is one old terrier now in the front line who has been wounded four times. If he survives this war, this old veteran is going to have a collar with four gold stripes on it.

Work of Red Cross Dogs

The Red Cross Dogs of the French hardly come under the head of pets. They are a lasting tribute to the part dumb animals have played, and are playing in the great world conflict. The dogs, however, render a service scarcely more notable than the little French donkeys that carry ammunition to the front line trenches. These little burros are as wise as they are grey. Their long straight ears, always poking forward, are attuned to the sounds of battle, and when the firing gets too heavy they dart for the shelter of shell holes and lie there with the drivers until danger temporarily is past.

Some of the strangest animals of the war are the wild cats of Ypres. The old mother and father cats of Ypres were once domesticated. But when the frightened population fled at the first bombardment, the cats, true to all cat traditions, remained behind. Now Ypres is a wilderness of ruins, and all cats born and living there have become like wild animals.

Lion Cub Is Pet

A Canadian sergeant-major came marching out of the "line" a few days ago with a magpie sitting on his shoulder. A private in the same company had a kitten curled up on the top of his knapsack. All the overseas troops bring mascots with them. The South Africans started out with as great collection of springboks, baboons, duikers, but the climate of northern France in winter mood is far from friendly, and the warm weather pets have mostly been "done in."

Probably the most amazing of all war pets, however, was the lion cub adopted by the American in the French aviation service. They read in a Paris paper that a "perfect dear of a cub" was for sale and promptly sent emissaries in to buy it. They said when it grew up they were going to drop it in the German lines, but it was spoiled by being pampered.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Canadians Excel in Raiding
Topic: CEF

Canadians Excel in Raiding and Trench Warfare

Official Statement From War Records Office Praises the men
Sneak on Huns
And Then With Bombs or Bayonets They Make Short Work of Enemy

The Montreal Daily Mail, 7 February 1917
(Canadian Press Despatch)

London, Feb. 6—The following communique was issued by the Canadian War Office Records to-day.

The Canadians have not been slow to take advantage of the hard weather which has made the ground, hitherto waterlogged, comparatively easy to move over. The German trenches have been entered on no less than four occasions by parties of various sizes. A number of prisoners have been taken and severe casualties inflicted on the enemy.

One daring little enterprise was carried out on a bright, starlit night. The raiders, dressed in white canvas to render themselves invisible as possible against the snow, crossed to within 10 yards of an enemy post without being detected. When the German sentry eventually did detect his assailants it was too late. The post, a particularly strong one, was rushed and the defenders quickly taken care of.

Take Many Prisoners

Another operation on a rather larger scale was carried out one morning by an Edmonton battalion. Two parties, each under an officer, stormed the enemy's trenches under cover of a bombardment. Many prisoners were taken and all dug-outs in the neighborhood were destroyed before the raiders returned. The excellent operation was carried out with a loss of two men slightly wounded.

By no means the least satisfactory feature of these raids which have been carried out so frequently is the remarkably few losses which our troops have suffered in their execution and of the many useful purposes they serve. The two most important are the wearing down of the enemy's morale by keeping him in a constant state of nervous expectation and the experience our men gain in what is known as "going over the parapet,' or in other words getting accustomed to the element of uncertainty which most men feel in crossing "No Man's Land' to the attack for the first time.

Have Established a Record

Canadian raiding exploits are well-known and in capturing 200 prisoners during the last three months of purely defensive warfare our troops have made ready for themselves a record of which they may justly be proud.

No other events of interest have occurred during the past week. Hard frost has prevailed and while this makes life in the trenches more rigorous the temporary absence of mud is a source of satisfaction.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 5 January 2017

Uncle Sam Claims Man Among Canadian Ranks
Topic: CEF

Uncle Sam Claims Man Among Canadian Ranks

Jackson Says He's American—Joins British—Now Draft Boards Want Him

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 26 September 1917

Is Daniel Roy Jackson an American or a Canadian?

This what members of the exemption board of local district No. 2 and officers of the British recruiting mission in Spokane would like to have settled.

On August 9 Jackson—ideal soldier material, being 28, single and without dependents—was examined before the board of local district No. 2, at which time, according to Chairman J.C. Argall, he declared he was born at Douglas, Wyoming.

He failed to respond to his draft call, however, and an investigation today revealed that on August 21 Jackson enlisted here with the British recruiting mission for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, under the representation that he had been born in Calgary, Alberta.

"This case is a puzzler," today said Mr. Argall. "I presume that if it is found that Jackson is an American, as he told us he was, he is likely to be surrendered by the Canadian army officials to be drafted into the American army, but I am not sure.

"I am sending all my information in the matter to the adjutant general, whose office can unscramble the mix-up."

elipsis graphic

A Soldier of the CEF

As it turned out, Daniel Roy Jackson served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His entry in the Library and Archives Canada database of Soldiers of the First World War includes a link to the surviving pages of his service record.

Jackson served in France with the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion. he joined the battalion on 2 March 1918 and was attached to the 6th Canadian Light Trench Mortar Battery, to which he was formally transferred on 11 July 1918. Jackson returned to Canada and was discharged from the CEF at Quebec on 28 August 1918. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service.

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 25 December 2016

His Majesty's Message; 25 Dec 1916
Topic: CEF

His Majesty's Message; 25 Dec 1916

Montreal Daily Mail, 25 Dec 1916

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 24 December 2016

Trench Raiding
Topic: CEF

Trench Raiding

Canadians From Alberta and Plains prove Adepts in New Methods of Trench Warfare

The Deseret News, 25 December 1916
(From a Staff Correspondent of the Associated Press.)

With the British armies in France, Dec. 24, via London, Dec. 25.—North of Arras certain Canadian troops have just accomplished what the British officers declare marks a new phase in modern trench warfare. In a raid, which however, was much more than a raid, they succeeded in putting out of action, temporarily at least, an entire battalion of German infantry. They took 59 prisoners, including one commissioned officer and estimated that they killed 150 Germans in dugouts which were blown to atoms after their occupants refused to surrender. The Canadian losses were extremely light. The "raid" took place at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on a front of 100 yards. The German prisoners admit that they were taken completely by surprise. The officer captured said he was convinced that something was about to happen but believed that the attack was coming on Christmas eve. He reported to the higher command but received no support.

The Canadians, mostly stalwart men from the plains of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, had skilfully established themselves well forward so that when the artillery had ceased the preparatory fire they were in the German front line trenches in less than two minutes. The officer in command, who was reporting the raid to Brigade headquarters by telephone, said that he had hardly uttered the words, "they're off" before he had to say "they're in." Consternation reigned among the Germans who scrambled for the saps and dugouts leading to rear trenches while the Canadians pelted them with hand grenades.

Caught unprepared, many Germans in the front line offered no resistance but threw up their hands with cried of "Kamerad!" Others were taken as they fled for the second and third lines for the Canadians pushed on quickly to the second trenches.

About 20 dugouts were destroyed by Canadians, several with bombs captured from the Germans. One of the officers engaged said:

"As we entered the trenches many Germans broke for the dugouts. All who did were subsequently well cared for. Each of our men was given definite instructions for his precise task and a map of the enemy's trenches which proved correct. Each man knew every detail of the proposed operation. They were delighted at this and entered the fight with great cheers. When they came out two hours later they were singing and as happy as school boys on a holiday. The neatness despatch with which the raid was carried out were unique. The artillery co-operation of the British guns was perfection. Beautifully placed curtains of fire prepared our advance and, crossing forward, protected us as they proceeded to absolutely demolish the enemy trenches and dugouts. The program had given the men an hour and a half for their work but the cleanup was accomplished in an hour and ten minutes and the raiders signalled they were ready to return to their own trenches."

No attempt was made at a counter attack until the following night, when the Germans bombarded and raided their own front line, or what was left of it, thinking that the raiders were still there. As a matter of fact the Canadians who carried out the operations were miles away. They were not part of the fighting line but on rest, and had gone forward for this particular piece of work, which was planned weeks ago.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 23 December 2016

Xmas Invasion of Britain
Topic: CEF

Xmas Invasion of Britain by Soldiers' Wives

Missanabie Took Hundreds of Canadian Women To See Their Husbands

Montreal Daily Mail, 25 Dec 1916
(Canadian Associated Press)

London, Dec. 23.—Animated scenes were witnessed at Liverpool when the Canadian pacific steamer Missanabie arrived. She is the Canadian Christmas boat and brought over hundreds of women and children desirous of spending Xmas with their husbands and brothers in training in Britain or on leave from the front.

Of 340 cabin passengers, only forty-three were men, with practically an all Canadian list, the majority having come from all parts of the Dominion, women from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie Provinces, British Columbia, Yukon. The majority had never seen England before. From Liverpool the train carried them to London and the various Canadian camps and hospitals scattered throughout Britain.

This unique invasion steamer also brought a big mail and a huge consignment of Xmas parcels for boys in training in Britain and at the front. An official stated that the Canadian mail and parcels received this year were of record proportions. In one week the mail despatched from Montreal included over 800,000 parcels. Two Canadian Pacific steamers recently brought between them 20,000 bags of mail and parcels.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Rules to be Observed; Parcels to POWs
Topic: CEF

Rules to be Observed in Remitting parcels, &c., to Prisoners of War

Local Postmaster Tells How To Go About the Task

… must not be included in any parcel … tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

The South Shore News, St. Lambert, Quebec, 8 November 1917

As there appears to be some confusion in the minds of many relatives and friends of German prisoners of war in Germany as to the sending of parcels to such prisoners, The South Shore |news has obtained from Mr. John H. Horsfall (postmaster) the following information:—

Parcels may be sent direct to officers who are interned in Germany, but in the case of privates they must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. Parcels addressed to privates or to non-commissioned officers in care of the Canadian Red Cross must not contain foodstuffs of any kind, clothing or printed matter. There is, in fact, very little except tobacco that can be sent direct to privates who are prisoners. In the case of tobacco, too, it is well to remember that the regulations forbid "tins which cannot be conveniently opened for inspection." Clothing and food may be sent direct to officers, but the following articles must not be included in any parcel sent to any prisoner interned in a belligerent country; written communications (letters must be sent separately by letter post), printed matter, money, stationery, stamps, playing cards, textiles, including wool, cotton, leather, rubber (except clothing in the case of officers), tennis balls, footballs, golf balls, spirits or solidified spirits for cooking stoves, matches or other inflammable material, photographic apparatus, field glasses, sextants and other instruments of use for military or naval purposes.

Parcels for privates (which parcels must not contain foodstuffs, clothing or other articles in the above list) must be sent through the Canadian Red Cross. The address should be in the following form:

No. 12345

Pte A.G. Robinson
48th Highlanders, Canadian Contingent, B.E.F.
Canadian Prisoner of War
Gottingen, Germany

c/o Prisoners of War Department
Canadian Red Cross Society
London, England.

Persons desiring to have food or articles of clothing sent to a Canadian prisoner of war belonging to the Canadian contingent, should send money for the purpose to the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England. The remittance should be in the form of a post office money order drawn in favor of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross Society, London, England, for the prisoner of war in question. The letter containing such a remittance should be addressed to the prisoner of war, care of the Prisoners of War Department, Canadian Red Cross, London, and if so addressed may be sent free of charge.

Letters, postcards, parcels and money orders addressed to prisoners of war (including British civilians interned in enemy countries) may be sent free of all postal charges.

Remittance of money may be sent direct to prisoners of war, and should be made by means of post office money orders, which are issued free of commission. The transmission of coin, either in letters or parcels, is prohibited. Information and advice with regard to British (including Canadian) prisoners of war may be obtained from the Central Prisoners of war Committee, 4 Thurloe Place, London, S.W. England, or from any post office.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 13 November 2016

Enemy Guns, Aircraft, etc., Coming to Canada
Topic: CEF

Enemy Guns, Aircraft, etc., Coming to Canada

Quebec Telegraph, 19 August 1919

It is stated in the Overseas Minister of Militia's report in connection with the allocation of war trophies captured by the Canadian troops, to the Dominion, that the Canadian war trophies may be classified under three heads:

  • Guns, machine guns, tanks, etc.
  • Smaller articles of interest to war museums, such as german equipment, armour, shells, shell cases, munitions, etc.
  • War aeroplanes and aeronautical equipment.

These trophies which will be shopped to Canada, include 107 field guns, 19 trench mortars, 248 machine guns, a large number of German aeroplanes, including 21 Fokker, 39 various other types of enemy aircraft, and 5 Gothas; many thousands German rifles, bayonets, grenades, uniforms, insignia, equipment of all kinds. All war trophies captured by Canadian troops became the property of Canadian Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 30 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 5)
Topic: CEF

Lieutenant Mitchell Tells Results of British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane

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

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 27 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.

It has been stated that there are aliens in the United States of ages specified in the selective draft act. Owing to the fact that treaties are in effect between the United States and the various foreign countries, none of these aliens who have not taken out their first papers can be taken for service in the United States and at the present time laws do not provide for the conscription of these aliens by their own government.

Owing to the fact that men are urgently required at the front at the present time, the United States government has been kind to permit the British and Canadian governments to establish a recruiting mission in this country for the purpose of enlisting these men voluntarily. In response to the appeal sent out by the British-Canadian Recruiting mission, a large number of men have come forwarded and enlisted in the armies of their native country. A statement a week ago from headquarters of the mission in New York city, said that 15 regiments had been recruited since the mission was established in July. The number of recruits obtained in this country depends almost entirely on the attitude of the American people and the amount of help they are willing to give the mission.

The people of Spokane and of the Inland Empire should appreciate that whenever a British or Canadian is exempted on account of the fact that he is an alien, it simply means that an American must be called to take hi place and fight his battles. While the British alien is under a double obligation, first to his native country and next to the United States, at the present time he cannot be compelled to go unless it is by the weight of public opinion, which will not tolerate slackers.

In Spokane county alone there have already been exempted 52 aliens and this has meant that 52 young Americans have had to step forward and serve in their places. The British-Canadian Recruiting mission wishes to ask the people of Spokane if they will not insist that the aliens who are slackers shall serve. If these Canadian and British aliens do not wish to return to serve in their own country, the British and American governments are quite willing that they serve in the United States forces and all recruiting agents have been informed of this fact.

Since the recruiting mission was opened at W603 Sprague avenue, in August of this year, the number of men enlisted run well into the hundreds. Many of these are at the present training in England and probably some are in the trenches. A large proportion of these have gone into the Canadian infantry which is the only branch of the Canadian army open for voluntary enlistment at the present time, and the rest have gone into the Canadian navy and into all branches of the British army.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 29 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 4)
Topic: CEF

"Trench Raids" Is the Topic of Recruiting Officer in Today's Article

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

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 26 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.

One of the most interesting and important minor operations is known as the "trench raid." A trench raid in its perfected state was first carried out by the 7th British Columbia Battalion at the famous Messines Ridge, early in 1915, and since that time these raids are carried out nightly by the opposing forces on the western front.

A trench raid is made for three purposes—all of which may be combined at one time. First, it is made to obtain prisoners as a means of identifying what hostile forces are holding the lines; secondly, to destroy any special troublesome enemy positions, and thirdly, to demoralize and break down the morale of the troops holding the position. When the Germans first raided trenches held by the American troops, they had probably the first idea in view, and in this they were successful. However, we may expect to hear at any day that the American soldiers have played the same trick on the Germans and probably with much greater success.

After the Canadians succeeded in the first trench raid, the method was adopted by both the British and French armies. Marshal Joffre mentioned this raid in his orders of the day as an example of how such an operation should be carried on. It has been the practice with the allies to have those raids carried out by practically every infantry battalion and they have been very successful. The German adaptation of the trench raid has been characteristic of his whole method of war. He has not been able to rely upon his ordinary troops to furnish raiding parties, and so has selected especially trained men and formed them into what is known as "storm troops." These are not used for ordinary trench duty but are moved from point to point to carry out a raid and thus to stiffen the back bone of the German troops holding that sector.

The trench raid, as usually carried out by the allies, is a very elaborate affair, calling for the closest cooperation of the infantry and artillery, and is undertaken after a period of intensive training for that purpose. After the point at which the raid is to take place has been determined, exact models of German trenches are laid out on the training grounds on which the enemy trenches are located. These trenches are laid out from photographs taken from aeroplanes.

After training has been completed in these trenches and every man is familiar with the part which he is to play, the party is then transferred to the trenches and the actual raid takes place. The raid is usually preceded by the artillery shelling the enemy's line at various places so that he will not be aware of which point the raid will take place and so that he will not be especially aroused by artillery fire directed against his position. The wire is usually cut either by this artillery fire or by fire from the trench mortars. At the moment the attacking party leaves their trenches, the artillery lay down a barrage of shells on both sides and behind, the object being to cut off the enemy in that sector from support. The attacking party then storm the trench, taking prisoners and machine guns and destroying dugouts, and killing many of the enemy who refuse to surrender. The operation is usually successful and with small loss to the raiding party, as from the time they leave their own trenches only a few moments elapse before they return with the prisoners.

In many particulars the German is a very fine soldier, but he often fails completely when called upon to act on his own initiative when he is not under the command of his officers, and this has been responsible for the failure of a great many German raids. It is naturally expected that the American troops in France will prove themselves expert in this form of fighting. The success of an operation of this kind depends largely upon the capability and resoluteness of each man employed.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 28 October 2016

British-Canadian Recruiting in Spokane (Part 3)
Topic: CEF

Fighting Is Not Only Game in Front Line Trenches, Mitchell Says

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

Spokane Daily Chronicle, 24 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 time spent by troops in the front line trenches is not entirely occupied by fighting. By far the larger part of it is spent in hard, dirty work, or tiring and straining periods of sentry duty. Major John Beith, better known as Ian Hay, says in his well-known book "The First Hundred Thousand," that "trench life consists of long periods of intense monotony punctuated by short periods of intense fright."

The trenches vary according to locality—in Flanders the ground is moist and the trenches consist mainly of parapets of sandbags of earth thrown above the ground level, while in France the ground is hard and in some places chalky and permits elaborate and well-protected trenches to be dug.

An ideal front line trench should consist of first a firing trench nearest the enemy, well protected by broad belts of wire entanglements and a short distance behind this should be a support trench, in which the men spend most of their time—eat and sleep. The firing and support trenches are connected by communication trenches and these also lead back to other positions in the rear. During an offensive such as the British army is now carrying on, it is impossible to construct well defined trench systems and the infantry are forced to live in large shell craters which they connect up with each other by short lengths of hastily dug trench.

During an ordinary tour in the front line trenches , that is, when no offensive or attack is taking place, most of the work is done at night. During that period portions of the trench which have fallen into disrepair or which have been damaged by enemy shell fire are repaired and new trenches and saps are dug. At night also fresh wire entanglements are built in front of the trenches, this last being a rather nerve-racking job. Men are forced to work entirely in the open, throwing themselves flat or standing motionless when a flare goes up from the opposing lines. Patrols push out into No Man's Land sometimes for the purpose of obtaining information as to the strength of the enemy's trench and the state of his defenses, and other times for the purpose of combating hostile patrols.

The American troops during their stay in the trenches have shown that they are very apt pupils at this style of warfare and there is no way in which they could have given the Germans a better idea of their superiority than by the patrol work that they have done. The Germans soon learn that they have very well trained troops opposed to them and it is very imprudent to venture into No Man's Land, and the fact that they do not know what is going on in front of them tends to make them apprehensive and nervous.

Machine gunners are active on both sides at intervals during the night—their favourite targets being working and wiring parties and parties bringing up rations to the front line. A considerable amount of indirect machine gun firing is done at night. Indirect firing is done when the target is not in view or in direct line with the gun. It is carried out by ranges obtained from maps. The gun is elevated to its extreme elevation and the bullets descend practically vertically on the target.

Just before dawn all tasks are completed and as daylight begins to break troops "stand to" to repulse any possible attack and to insure that each man is in his proper position. As soon as it is light enough to clearly see the enemy's lines, the sentries occupy the positions which they are to hold during the day time and the remainder of the men get their breakfast. This is usually one of the most quiet periods of the day, but immediately after breakfast the opposing artillerymen and trench mortarists take up their daily duty of annoying the enemy's infantry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
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.

elipsis graphic

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."

elipsis graphic

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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