The Minute Book
Thursday, 8 September 2016

Military Weddings
Topic: Tradition

Military Weddings

Military Weddings Follow Traditions Which Provide Very Picturesque Settings

The bridegroom usually takes the responsibility of seeing that the groomsmen are equipped with proper trappings and borrows swords or sabers for those who do not have their own.

Ottawa Citizen, 29 May 1942

If the bridegroom is an army, a navy or an air force man, the bride-to-be should plan her wedding along military lines.

The chief difference between the military or naval wedding and and the ordinary civilian wedding is that the bridegroom is in uniform, and his ushers, chosen from among his military friends, are likewise in uniform. And another exciting difference is the formation of an arch of sabers or swords at the conclusion of the ceremony and again as the newlyweds leave the church.

The best man may or may not be a civilian, as it is considered only fitting that this member of the wedding party be the bridegroom's closest friend. All military personnel in the wedding party wear sidearms, and carry their caps. No boutonnieres are ever worn with the uniform.

The bridegroom leaves hi cap in the vestry. He enters from the front, the same as in any wedding, and the formation at the altar is usually similar to a civilian wedding.

After the ceremony has been performed and the couple start to leave, the ushers draw their sabers—or swords for navy—at the command "Draw Sabers" (from one of the ushers) at the foot of the chancel steps and the bride and bridegroom pass beneath the arch. After they have passed through the ushers each take a bridesmaid down the aisle and out of the church. In marching out of the church, the bridegroom, best man and ushers offer their right arms to the bride, maid-of-honor and bridesmaids, thus avoiding entanglement of sabres or swords and dresses, and leaving the left hand free to carry the cap.

At the chapel steps the ushers reform the arch of swords for the bridal party to again pass under.

There is generally a toast to the bride at the reception, welcoming her into the army or navy, after which the best man and the ushers draw their sabers or swords together at the commands "Draw" and "Sabre" and cross them, forming an arch above the bride's head. The glasses are held high in the left hand and the toast is generally concluded with "How!"

Saber to Cut Cake

The bride cuts the cake with her husband's saber or sword. The husband may help her do this. She makes only the initial cut and should make a wish while doing so.

The bridal party enters the church as follows: Ushers, two by two; bridemaids, matron-of-honor, bride and father. There is no difference be tween a civilian and a military ceremony here, except that the ushers always walk together.

The bridegroom enters the church with the best man at the at the side entrance, or from the rector's study, taking an oblique position in front of the lectern. The bridal party marches down the aisle, and divides at the chancel steps, the ushers taking oblique positions half facing the congregation and the bridesmaids facing the same way only in front of and between each usher. The matron-of-honor takes her position opposite the best man. The bride and her father come down the aisle together and stand in the center facing the minister.

The bridegroom usually takes the responsibility of seeing that the groomsmen are equipped with proper trappings and borrows swords or sabers for those who do not have their own.

Air corps weddings follow the same pattern as laid-down for other military type weddings.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Subaltern's Cup
Topic: Tradition

The Subaltern's Cup

The Regimental Handbook of The Duke Of Lancaster's Regiment, Preston, 2007

The Subaltern's Cup. The 1st Battalion possess an old silver chalice, known as the Subaltern's Cup on account of it being entrusted to the care of the senior subaltern for the time being and set before him in the Mess. On the senior subaltern's promotion to Captain it has been the custom for the cup to be handed over to his successor after dinner in the Mess when all the senior officers have left the room. The cup is filled with champagne, which the newly promoted captain has to drain at one draught. His successor, followed by all the subalterns in turn, then do the same at the new captain's expense. Should any officer fail to drain the cup at one draught, he has to stand another round of champagne to all present.

The cup hallmarked London 1769, was presented to the Mess of the 47th by Lieutenant Thomas Faunce on retirement from the Regiment in 1770. On one side is engraved the arms and motto of the Faunce family and the other side has his crest and the initials 'TF'. Thomas Faunce (1737-1807) was commissioned into the 47th in 1758 and fought with them the following year at Quebec, where he was wounded. He later served as Town Major of Quebec 1785-1807. His son Alured Faunce (1775-1850) was commissioned into the King's Own in 1795 and served with great distinction in Spain and America. He fought under Sir John Moore at Corunna and in the battles of the Peninsula campaign. At the battle of Salamanca, 1812, the Light Company 30th Regiment were in a composite Light Battalion under his command when they captured the Eagle of the French 22nd Regiment. Faunce later commanded the King's Own (1822-27) in the West Indies and Portugal, and became a Major-General. This is the oldest piece of silver in continuous use in the Regiment.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 July 2015

Regimental Tradition
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Tradition

… the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique…

"Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

The value of regimental tradition also appears in its effects upon leadership. Here again the commander of the more technical arms has an advantage; the most important part of his task is the application of principles, scientifically established and agreed upon, to a given situation which may indeed be affected by the fact that it occurs in time of war but is not radically altered thereby. Thus, in peace or war, it takes very little time for a seaman with any experience at all to sum up a new Captain: simply by observing the way he shapes he will very soon gain confidence that his commander is among those who can claim with truth, "I never run a ship ashore." Similarly it is very soon clear whether a commander of artillery or engineers is technically competent. But the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique: it consists of the application of principles, it is true, but these principles are profoundly modified by the individual commander's view of the way to apply them, in fact, by his personal character. Thus a thrusting Irishman may attack with three companies up, while a cautious Scot may prefer to commit only one company at the outset: both may succeed admirably, but it is probable that neither will have much success at all unless he has somehow gained the confidence of his men before the battle, so that every soldier will go "all out" without anxious fears of something going wrong. Such confidence is based on knowledge, and knowledge is more easily and quickly acquired if both leader and led are on the same metaphorical "wavelength" as the result of a common military culture and upbringing based on shared traditions. A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2015 12:04 AM EDT
Saturday, 6 June 2015

Regimental Goats and Rams
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Goats and Rams

Regimental Mascots, by Major T.J. Edwards, M.B.E., F.R. Hist.S.
The Army Quarterly, Volume LXIII (October 1951 and January 1952)

Possibly the most well-known animals of this kind are goats of The Royal Welch Fusiliers and The Welch Regiment. When on parade attired in their "full canonicals" they make a fine show. Their "full dress" consists of a handsome cloth embroidered with badges, etc., draped over the body, horns and hooves gilded and harness of high quality. They are led by goat-majors at the head of their units and lend a picturesque touch to ceremonial occasions. It is not known precisely when The Royal Welch Fusiliers had their first goat, but they certainly had one at the Battle of Bunker's Hill on the 17th of June, 1775, during the American War of Independence. It is not recorded whether his butting powers were put to any tactical use, but Major Donkin in his "Military Recollections and Remarks" has noted the following amusing incident:

"Every 1st March, being the anniversary of their tutelar Saint, David, the officers give a splendid entertainment to all their Welch brethren; and after the cloth is taken away a bumper is filled round to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (whose health is always drunk to first that day), the band playing the old tune of "The Noble Race of Shenkin," when a handsome drum-boy, elegantly dressed, mounted on the goat richly caparisoned for the occasion, is led thrice round the table in procession by the Drum Major. It happened in 1775, at Boston that the animal gave such a spring from the floor, that he dropped his rider upon the table, and then, bounding over the heads of some officers, he ran to the barracks with all his trappings to no small joy of the Garrison and populace."

This must have been a super-lusty goat for none of his successors appear to have given such a performance.

Queen Victoria appears to have liked the idea of this regiment having goats for in 1844 Her Majesty presented one to each of the two regular battalions, and all "replacements," for a considerable number of years afterwards, came from the Royal Herd at Windsor.

The Welch Regiment had a goat during the Afghan War, with which it marched into enemy territory, but died in the Bolan Pass in 1842. For many years these goats also came from the Royal Herd, but the early ones were gifts from distinguished personages, including the Duke of Wellington. During the South African War of 1899-1902 one was obtained in the theatre of operations for a pound of butter, which might be regarded as suitable exchange for a "butter."

In the matter of diet goats have a fairly catholic taste and hardly anything about barracks comes amiss. Even so they ought to exercise some discretion in what they eat. We remember one goat of pre-Great War vintage that celebrated Christmas Day by eating the paper decorations around a barrack room. Flour paste and tissue paper apparently have a habit of expanding considerably when "housed" together inside a goat. What the limit of expansion is we do not know, but we do know that this animal's interior had not the requisite elasticity—with fatal results.

elipsis graphic

Rex, the goat of The Welch Regiment, caused some embarrassment on Church Parade at Aldershot in November, 1932. Adorned in all his finery, he stood at the head of the battalion, but when the C.O. ordered "Quick March," Rex lay down and refused to budge. Neither persuasion nor threats could make him rise so he was dragged somewhat unceremoniously from the parade and placed "under arrest." His case was inquired into and it was found that the regular goat-major was on leave and Rex would take no orders from his deputy.

Rams seem to have some affinity to goats if only in general appearance and the 2nd Bn. The Sherwood Foresters had rams as their mascots ever since the first one was captured from the enemy at Kotah during the Indian Mutiny. Now that the 2nd Bn. has been disbanded the 1st Bn. is continuing the custom. During an assault on the mutineers the O.C., Lieut.-Colonel Raines, noticed a fine ram tethered in a temple compound, so he remarked to Private Cody of the Grenadier Company, "Do you think you could capture that ram?" and Cody replied assuringly, "Yes, Sorr, I'm sure I could." "Right-o, go ahead," said the C.O., and handing his rifle to a nearby sergeant the Grenadier crept towards his prize. The regiment watched with anxiety as Cody slithered over low walls under fire from a hidden enemy but fortune favoured him and he reached the ram without being hit. He fussed the animal a little to gain its confidence and then returned to his unit, lifting the animal over the walls. When the rebels saw their "rations on the hoof" being taken from them they increased their fire, but although bullets spattered on the wa1ls around him, Cody was unscathed.

The ram immediately became a firm favourite with all ranks and although he was originally intended "for the table" he was spared this fate and instead became the regimental mascot, being dubbed "Derby I," the old 95th Foot having had "Derbyshire" inc1uded in its official title in 1825. He proved to be the first of a long line for "Derby XVII" reigns at present [1952]. Derby I had a strong sense of ownership, and if any other ram came near the regiment he was "for it." Usually only one round was sufficient to settle any argument. The ladies of the regiment made him a beautiful scarlet coat and a plume for his brow: on the coat he wore the Indian Mutiny medal which has also been worn by all of his successors in the "appointment." Derby III was remarkable for the fact that he had two pairs of horns, the second pair curving towards the front, a few inches below his ears. He was the gift of the Maharajah of Kashmir. Derby VIII was a born atheist and strongly objected to attending Divine Service mainly, it is thought, because he did not like the music played by the band on church parade. He suffered from ingrowing horns which was incurable and he had to be "put away." The Regimental Magazine recorded his premature demise thus: "Deaths. At Solon on the tenth of October 1893, Derby VII. By the hand of a butcher." He became a hearthrug in his next reincarnation.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lord Wolseley on Cavalry
Topic: Tradition

Lord Wolseley on Cavalry

The Montreal Gazette, 20 Auguest 1892

Lord Wolseley, writing in the March number of the United Service Magazine says:

"This is not the place to discuss the advisability or the possibility of making our splendid cavalry learn to be as efficient as foot soldiers as they are now as cavalry. I, for one, don't believe in the military Jack-of-all-arms, and I feel the result would be a failure. The man would have the efficiency of neither arm. We persuade our foot soldiers that they are more than a match for the finest men on the finest horses, and we teach our cavalry that if they will only ride home no infantry can stand against them. But what is to be the faith we are to instil into this hybrid soldier? He will have no confidence in himself on foot or on horseback, and the soldier without implicit faith in his own arm is a poor creature. I strongly recommend that those who wish to pursue this subject to read Modern Cavalry by my old friend and comrade, Col. G.T. Denison."

Lord Wolseley, also in the same magazine, says:

"In all epochs the Horse have naturally thought themselves superior to the Foot. A name has often much to do with the fighting of soldiers; and if a man is proud of the official designation given to his arm of the service, no one but an idiot who had to get hard work out of the arm would have any other, no matter how technically wrong such a title might be. You cannot make the cavalry soldier or the mounted soldier, whatever may be his functions in war, think too highly if himself. His training teaches him that he belongs, as it were, to the aristocracy of the army, and places him in a position far above that of what the Indian Service terms the "Peidal Wallah." This feeling was given full vent to in a cavalry song of the period, when Forrest, Fitzhugh, Lee, Morgan, Sheridan, Stewart, and other leaders of mounted troops were justly the popular heroes of the day. I can only remember the refrain, which ran thus:—

"If you want to smell hell, just jine the Cavalry—jine the Cavalry!"

elipsis graphic

Jine the Cavalry

Chorus:

If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry!
Jine the cavalry! Jine the cavalry!
If you want to catch the Devil, if you want to have fun,
If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!

Verses:

We're the boys who went around McClellian,
Went around McClellian, went around McClellian!
We're the boys who went around McClellian,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!

We're the boys who crossed the Potomicum,
Crossed the Potomicum, crossed the Potomicum!
We're the boys who crossed the Potomicum,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!

Then we went into Pennsylvania,
Into Pennsylvania, into Pennsylvania!
Then we went into Pennsylvania,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!

The big fat Dutch gals hand around the breadium,
Hand around the breadium, hand around the breadium!
The big fat Dutch gals hand around the breadium,
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!

Ol' Joe Hooker, won't you come out of The Wilderness?
Come out of The Wilderness, come out of The Wilderness?
Ol' Joe Hooker, won't you come out of The Wilderness?
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Lanyards and the Artillery
Topic: Tradition

Lanyards and the Artillery

Brigadier KA Timbers, Royal Artillery Institution; as posted on the Great War Forum

There has long been a tale about Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns. Of course, this story is nothing more than a piece of leg pulling; the information that follows is historical facts.

Lanyards associated with dress came into use in the late 19th Century, when field guns such as the 12 and 15 pounders used ammunition which had fuses set with a fuse key. The key was a simple device, and every man had one, attached to a lanyard worn aroundhis neck. The key itself was kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was simply a piece of strong cord, but it was gradually turned into something more decorative, smartened up with 'Blanco', and braided, taking its present form. Prior to the South African War, Gunners were issued with steel folding hoof picks, carried on the saddle or in the jacket. In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced by jack-knifes, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the service dress attached to a lanyard over the left shoulder.

In the war years that followed, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard forthose guns which had a trigger mechanism, allowing the gunner to stand clear of the gun's recoil.

The question of which shoulder bore the lanyard depends on the date. There is no certainty about this, but the change from the left shoulder to the right probably took place at the time of the Great War, when the bandolier was introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change, when the sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.

Eventually, in 1933, the end of lanyard was simply tucked into the breast pocket without the jack-knife, though many may remember that it was often kept in place with the soldiers pay book! On the demise of Battledress, the lanyard disappeared for a short tie, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment Of Artillery in 1973. It may surprise some readers that this particular piece of leg pulling is repeated in various forms. The Gold stripes in the Gunners stable belt stem — like the blue scarlet — the colours of the uniform at the same time the stable belt was introduced.

It was not a question, as the jokers would have it, of yellow stripes for cowardice! Equally silly is the suggestion that the Gunners grenade has seven flames as opposed to the sappers nine because we lost 2 guns at the same point in history! For those still plagued by jokers, the simplest answer to this kind of leg pulling is to invite the joker to present his evidence. No change to any of the army's dress regulations can take place without a formal order, and let us be realistic! it is ludicrous to suppose that the Army Board in its wisdom would countenance the idea of a 'Badge of shame' to be worn by any branch of the service. It would guarantee that no one would ever join it! And since no such evidence exists, the joker's story falls flat on its face. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyards — they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Ubique

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 April 2015 9:37 AM EDT
Thursday, 2 April 2015

Royal Engineers Flag and March (1948)
Topic: Tradition

The Royal Engineers Flag and March (1948)

Royal Engineers Training Memorandum, No. 25, November, 1948

The RE flag as shown in the original 1948 article.

ALTTEXT

A modern colours chart for the camp flag and colours of the Canadian Militiary Engineers.

R.E. Flag

It has been noticed that several units have been flying the RE flag in an unauthorized manner.

The following extract from a meeting of the RE Corps Committee, held on 11th December 1930, gives details regarding the size and design of the flag.

Flags will be of the same colour and design as the sealed pattern of the Corps ribbon. The size of the flag is optional, but the strips will be in proportion to those on the Corps ribbon, and flown horizontally. Units may, if they wish, add a distinguishing figure or cypher, the colour of which is optional.

In conformity with this specification the colours in relation to the width of the flag should be:—

  • Red—four thirty-seconds;
  • Blue—five thirty-seconds:
  • Red—fourteen thirty-seconds:
  • Blue—five thirty-seconds:
  • Red—four thirty-seconds.

The Regimental March of the Royal Engineers

Prior to 1870 there was no authorized march for the Corps of Royal Engineers but various Companies had their own. In 1841, the 7th Company, Royal Sappers and Miners, at Woolwich, had "Love Not, Ye Hapless Sons of Clay" for their quick march, this was in the days of the Bugle Band. Another quick march was "I'm Ninety-Five, I'm Ninety-Five", an old 95th or Rifle Brigade March.

"Wings" was adopted in 1870 being selected by the Band Committee under the Direction of Lieut-General Sir T.L.J. Gallway (then Commandant SME), it was scored by Bandmaster W.J. Newstead, RE, and was composed of a combination of "The Path Across the Hills", a tune of unknown German origin, and "Wings" by Delores (Miss Dickson).

In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief, HRH, The Duke of Cambridge, ordered that it should be replaced by the "British Grenadiers", which, he asserted, was the only authorized march for the Corps in common with the Royal Artillery and Grenadier Guards.

At the end of l902 the Commander-in-Chief ordered that "Wings" be restored as Regimental March (vide WO letter 61030/3218d 14/10/02). Since then "Wings" has remained the RE March, and is always played at March Pasts.

These words are sung to the trio:—

Wings to bear me over mountain and vale away;
Wings to bathe my spirit in morning's sunny ray;
Wings that I may hover at morn above the sea;
Wings through life, to bear me, and death triumphantly.

Wings like youth's fleet moments which swiftly o'er me passed;
Wings like my early visions, too bright, to fair to last;
Wings that I might recall them, the loved, the lost, the dead;
Wings that I might fly after the past, long vanquished.

Wings to lift me upward, soaring with eagle flight;
Wings to waft me heav'nward to bask in realms of light;
Wings to be no more wearied, lulled in eternal rest;
Wings to be sweetly folded where faith and love are blessed.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Value of a Tradition
Topic: Tradition

The Value of a Tradition

"Looks or use?," by Major E.L.M. Burns, M.C., p.s.c., Royal Canadian Engineers; Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol. IX, No. 1, October 1931

It may be said — "Oh, but the crowd likes the bright uniforms." Admitting for the moment that the crowd does like bright uniforms, let us ask ourselves whether that would be a sufficient reason for wearing them. It is always degrading to seek the approval of the witness. But it is by no means certain that the crowd is fooled. I quote from a recent popular song:

"The King's Horses and the King's Men!
They're in scarlet, they're in gold,
All dolled up, it's a joy to behold
The King's Horses and the King's Men!,
They're not out to fight the foe,
You might think so, but Oh! Dear No!
They're out because they've got to go
To put a little pep in the Lord Mayor's Show."

Popular songs, it may be said, are not made on themes which are contrary to popular beliefs.

The Frontenac Times


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Canadian Army Christmas (1954)
Topic: Tradition


A modern table set for a Soldier's Christmas Dinner.

No Forgotten, Lonely Soldiers Among Forces At Home or Abroad

The Montreal Gazette; 24 December 1954

The Canadian Army has taken steps to ensure that there will be no "lonely" or forgotten soldiers at any Canadian Army camp or station at home of abroad this Christmas.

In Korea, Japan, Germany, Indo-China, the United Kingdom, and at all camps in Canada, including several isolated stations in the far north, special Christmas menus will include turkey and all the traditional Yuletide trimmings.

Christmas dinner at most camps will be served personally to privates, gunners and troopers by their officers and non-commissioned officers who will act as waiters.

Canadian Army troops stationed at Fort Churchill, Man., will play host Christmas Day to RCAF and US Army men stationed at the northern base. Christmas entertainment will include two parties for children of servicemen and a number of unit parties for servicemen and their families. Midnight Mass will be celebrated at midnight Christmas eve in the chapel of Our Lady of the Snows Church, one of two service chapels at the camp.

In Korea, Canadian troops have gone out of their way to add a typical Canadian touch to their Yuletide celebrations. Lighted Christmas trees have sprung up everywhere in a land now almost devoid of trees of any size. But first prize for Christmas ingenuity goes to members of the 42nd Infantry Workshop, Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers who have erected a huge neon sign in the Canadian sector. Winking on and off, round the clock, the sign wishes all who pass it "Christmas Greetings to all our Customers—the Management and Staff, 42 Infantry Workshop, RCEME, Light and Power Corporation."

The unit, one of the last of the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade to remain in Korea, handles vehicle repairs for all units of the brigade and spends much of its time keeping all units supplied with electrical power.

Korea Menu

Christmas menu for Christmas in Korea this year includes shrimp cocktail, roast turkey with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce, steamed broccoli, buttered corn, cauliflower-au-gratin, Franconia potatoes, pumpkin pie, preserved peaches, fruit cake, nuts, raisins, candies and coffee.

Troops in Europe will be served a similar meal if they remain in camp, but many will enjoy Christmas dinners with their families in newly-built married quarters or with German families. Several hundred have accepted invitations to spend Christmas with German friends.

On the other hand, more than 1,200 German kiddies in the Soest area have been invited to a Christmas tree party being held for some 3,000 youngsters of Canadian Army personnel serving with the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade.

Midnight Mass and Christmas Day communion services in military churches in the five main Canadian Army camps in the Soest area will bring all ranks in close touch with the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Day menu for Canadian troops in Germany includes a choice of fruit cocktail or tomato juice, soup, combination salad with French dressing, roast turkey with savoury dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, whipped potatoes, buttered carrots, fresh green peas, plum pudding wil caramel sauce, hot mincemeat pies, fresh fruit, mixed nuts, candies, hot buttered rolls with cheese and a choice of Canadian beverages.

Canadian Cigarets

To help brighten Christmas, 280,000 Canadian cigarets and 18,000 bottles of Canadian ale will be distributed to all ranks of the brigade on Christmas Day. The cigarets are a gift of the province of Ontario and the ale was shipped to the troops by Labatt's brewery.

At typical Canadian camps such as Camp Borden and Petawawa, both in Ontario, soldiers will enjoy a break in training, a Christmas feast that can be topped only by Christmas dinner as "mother used to make it," and number of Yuletide parties, most of them for dependent children.

At Army Headquarters, in Ottawa, where several thousand officers and men are stationed, troops received an unusual but welcome pre-Christmas present. They were granted permission to come to work each working day from now till the New Year in civilian clothes.

In the Far North, Christmas will be a little different for some soldiers than the usual family Christmas they remember, but it will not be "lonely."

At 19 stations of the Northwest Territory and Yukon Radio System, manned by members of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in the far north, Christmas will be a community effort planned and enjoyed by all.

Party in the Yukon

Six soldiers and their families, including nine children, stationed at Dawson, Yukon Territory, have planned a big Christmas Eve party in the settlement. Christmas Day, all member of the station have been invited to Christmas dinner at the home of Sergeant Major (WO I) R.A. McLeod, a native of Vancouver and station commander.

There are no married soldiers or youngsters at the Army signal station at Fort Reliance in the Northwest Territories, but the four unmarried soldiers and their civilian cook stationed there plan to have the best Christmas possible under the circumstances. They have been hoarding their turkey and other typical Christmas rations received before the freeze-up and plan a special Christmas dinner. However, work at the isolated station will be carried out as usual Christmas Day.

In Indo-China, Canadian personnel will enjoy a Christmas dinner with "all the trimmings," even though most of it will be out of tins. But their important job as members of the truce teams will go on as usual.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Rating Takes 'Ship's Command' in Yule Tradition
Topic: Tradition

Royal Canadian Navy (R.C.N.) - Leading Seaman Pat Hughes and Able Seamen Fred Derkach and Orville Campbell distributing nuts and oranges during preparations for Christmas dinner aboard the infantry landing ship H.M.C.S. PRINCE DAVID, Ferryville, Tunisia, 25 December 1944. Photographer: Donovan James Thorndick. MIKAN Number: 3202074. From the Library and Archives Canada Faces of War collection.

Rating Takes 'Ship's Command' in Yule Tradition of the Navy

The Montreal Gazette; 25 December, 1943
By James McCook

Every corvette skipper may hope to command a battleship—but not at Christmas.

The Royal Canadian Navy, at Ottawa, describing naval Christmas tradition, relates that just before noon on Christmas Day the captain assembles all his officers and they make the rounds of each mess in the ship, wishing the crew a Merry Christmas.

"For the captain, this is an easier task in a corvette of destroyer than in a battleship, for he is offered a drink in each mess and a battleship may have 40 or 50 messes," said the Navy.

"The drink may range from issue rum to a cup of tea and the captain may not slight any mess by refusing hospitality.

"It takes a sturdy captain to retain his appetite for dinner."

The necessities of war will curtail Christmas tradition on ships at sea, but in port the observances will be as full as the commanding officer decides. Generally, messdecks are decorated with whatever greenery and colored paper the men can pick up ashore.

Discipline is somewhat relaxed. With the men permitted to have a bottle of beer or wine.

A large loaf of bread, pinned to the table with a bayonet, will be the central decoration of seamen's mess tables in every Canadian warship observing the full naval Christmas tradition.

Royal Canadian Navy (R.C.N.) cooks M.B. McLean and Patterson mixing rum into a Christmas pudding aboard the destroyer H.M.C.S. ASSINIBOINE, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, December 1940. MIKAN Number: 3567053. From the Library and Archives Canada Faces of War collection.

Custom is Maintained

Beside the loaf will be a neatly printed inscription: "The staff of life, at the point of death"—an ancient custom probably originating with a seaman who felt it should be made clear that there were better things to eat on Christmas Day, the Navy suggested.

By strict tradition, the youngest rating in each ship should don the captain's uniform and be ruler of the ship for the day. Similarly, ship's boys wear petty officers'' badges and carry out petty officers' duties. This is a survival of an old Roman custom whereby masters waited on servants at Christmas.

Naval authorities said any such program is definitely out for ships at sea; but in port it is customary for all officers to go ashore after the ceremony, except for the officer of the watch who remains in case of emergencies but usually keeps to his cabin.

In the olden days the departure of the officers for shore almost was a necessity for celebrations in the messdecks were so rowdy there would almost certainly be charges of mutiny if they stayed aboard, the Navy said.

After being captain for a day, the youngest boy in the ship has another important duty on New Year's Eve. As the hour of midnight strikes, he rings the ship's bell 16 times, eight for the old year and eight for the new—the only time in the year the bell is rung more than eight times at once.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 6 December 2014

A Gun Carriage for Final Trip
Topic: Tradition

The gun carriage used in the funeral procession of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's), on 28 October, 2014, in Hamilton, Ontario.

A Gun Carriage for Final Trip

Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph; 21 March 1967
By Patrick Nicholson

Many Ottawans lining the streets at the funeral of the late Governor General Vanier—and no doubt many more television viewers were intrigued by the transportation of the coffin.

Why, they wondered, was it not driven in the usual glass-walled Cadillac hearse?

Why was it drawn on an artillery carriage by men of the Royal Canadian Navy?

This is a tradition at state funerals. Many will remember the impressive phalanx of naval bluejackets which was so prominent at the funeral procession of Churchill.

But it is not old, as traditions go, dating only from the funeral of Queen Victoria on February 2, 1902.

Like many of the trappings of tradition prone navies, its English origin has been adopted by other countries; just as many navies copy the British sailor's uniform in adding three white stripes around the collar, commemorating the three great victories of history's most famous sailor, Nelson.

Bluejackets drawing the gun carriage in the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

Great White Queen

Queen Victoria died at her favourite home, Osborne House in the Isle of Wight, in the 82nd year of her life and the 64th year of her reign.

He body was brought by train to Windsor for the funeral service in that historic castle; from that point I will quote an eye-witness account, from the Times newspaper of London, of Feb. 4, 1901:

"After the Queen's remains had been transferred from the royal train and placed upon the gun carriage, the procession began to move up to the mournful roll of the muffled drums. Chopin's 'Marche Funebre' by the band, the funeral tolling of the Castle bells, and the salute fired by the 'Eagle' battery of the Royal Horse Artillery.

"At this moment an unfortunate incident marred, for a time, the progress of the cortege. The artillery horse, which for some reason had become rather restless, had only moved a few paces when one of them reared and plunged in an exceeding dangerous manner in front of the gun carriage, behind which the King, the German Emperor, and the Duke of Connaught were walking.

"All attempts to pacify the animal were altogether unavailing, and at last, as the procession was being seriously delayed, the entire team was removed and their places were taken by a large number of Bluejackets who formed the Naval guard of honour.

"With their ever ready handiness, they turned the traces and chains of the harness into draw ropes, fitted them to the gun carriage, and themselves drew it with its precious burden from the station to the chapel.

"The King later sent a message to the Naval Brigade, conveying his thanks for the timely aid which they had rendered and for the seamanlike manner in which they had carried out their unexpected duty."

Bluejackets drawing the gun carriage in the state funeral of King Edward VII.

A Tradition is Born

Still in the charming leisurely prose of that day, the Times commented editorially:

"Even at the awkward contretemps at Windsor, when the artillery horses refused to move and were quickly replaced by Bluejackets, is scarcely to be regretted, since it served to show once more the resourcefulness, the utility and the ubiquity of the Navy."

Ever since then at state funerals in England—and in some other countries—naval bluejackets have been accorded the honoured role of hauling from front, and restraining from the rear, the gun carriage bearing the coffin.

The officers in command of Queen Victoria's last naval guard of honour, who masterminded that improvised human team, were Lieut. A. Boyle of HMS Excellent, Sub-Lieut. Percy Noble of the Royal Naval College, and Midshipman Stanley Holbrook, of HMS Majestic.

Boyle, a son of the Earl of Shannon, rose to be Admiral and died in 1949. Stanley Holbrook also ended a distinguished career in the Royal Navy at the rank of Admiral, and now lives in retirement in England.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The “Royals” Sorel Day Parade 1941
Topic: Tradition

Left: The Second World War period Tudor-crowned (i.e., colloquially named King's crown) badge of the Royal Regiment of Canada. Right: The drumhead ceremony of the 2012 Sorrel Day parade of the Royal Regiment of Canada.

Ontario Regiment in U.K. Observes Annual Sorrel Day

Ottawa Citizen; 2 July 1941
By Ross Munro, Canadian press War Correspondent
Somewhere in England

July 1.—Even in the defensive areas with the overseas army, a central Ontario regiment remembered its annual Sorrel Day ceremony which has been traditional since 1917.

With a drumhead service in its camp here and regimental ceremonial which is infrequent in England, the regiment commemorated the 1916 victory at Mount Sorrel, near Ypres, of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion, one of the battalions which the present regiment perpetuates.

At Mount Sorrel, the 3rd Battalion won special mention but lost 16 officers and 412 men out of 650 engaged.

Since 1917, a sprig of wood-sorrel has been worn by all ranks on this day, except in 1940 when the battalion was en route to serve in Iceland before joining the Canadian corps in England. This year the tradition was followed as usual.

Brilliant color and stirring martial music was provided by the Royal Marines Band.

Presents Sorrel

Before the service and the march past, with Maj.-Gen. Victor Odlum, 2nd Division Commander taking the salute, Mrs. A.G.L. McNaughton, wife of the corps commander, presented boxes of sorrel to warrant officers, under R.S.M. Eric Gaiger of Toronto, to be distributed to the men, and personally gave each officer his sprig of this green, three-leaf plant.

All ranks wore the sorrel in the buckles of their steel helmets instead of on forage caps as in previous ceremonies. This was the first time since the last war that they observed the day in full battle kit.

A large number of senior Canadian officers attended and among the civilian visitors was Sir Eustace Fiennes, a British barrister who fought with the regiment at Batoche in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. He is 77.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 27 November 2014

CH of O Colours, 1936
Topic: Tradition


The first stand of Colours presented to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa. (Source)

Presentation of Colours

Lord Tweedsmuir to Officiate on October 18 [1936]

The Montreal; Gazette; 8 October 1936
(Special to the Gazette.)

Ottawa, October 7.—New King's and Regimental colors are to be presented to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, October 18, on Parliament Hill by His Excellency the Governor General, on behalf of the 43rd D.C.O.R. Regimental Association. The Highlanders perpetuate the 43rd, which regiment flourished in Ottawa prior to the Great War. It is probably unique in Canadian military history for a former regiment, out of active existence for more than twenty years, to come forward and make a presentation of this sort to the perpetuating unit. It is anticipated that in the neighborhood of 400 former members of the 43rd will parade in mufti for the occasion. A color guard of five men will guard the new colors from the present repository to the Hill, at which place Col. Sir A. Percy Sherwood, Honorary Colonel of the Camerons, and honorary president of the 43rd association, will hand over to His Excellency the colors with the request that he present them to the Highland unit.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Infantry's Tradition
Topic: Tradition


Detail from The Thin Red Line (The Sutherland Highlanders at the Battle of Balaclava 1854), by Robert Gibb

The Infantry's Tradition

Excerpt from "Retrospect of Warfare in Three Elements"
The Glasgow Herald, 8 May 1945

In this country of all countries, the infantry has been the weapon par excellence. When we think of the British Army we think of the infantryman from the earliest times—the Saxon wall at Hastings, the bowmen at Crecy, the six regiments at Minden, the column at Fontenoy, the "diehards" at Albuera, the squares at Waterloo, the "thin red line" in the Crimea, the Second Corps at Le Cateau, the 15th Division at Loos, the long agony on the Somme and at Passchendaele, and in this war the retreat to Dunkirk, the battles at El Alamein, at Anzio, at Falaise, and on the Rhine.

This most modern of wars has not proved the tradition false. Moving along the long roads that led from distant shores to Berlin, roads on which, as has been said, the milestones were wooden crosses and the signposts the graves of his forefathers, the British infantryman by universal acknowledgement has been the strong buttress of battle. We should be ill advised to believe that it has been his splendid swan-song.


The Battle of Minden, by by Dawn Waring (Source)

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 22 November 2014

Laying Up Colours, 1898
Topic: Tradition

Surrender of Colours

Grenadiers Will Yield Their Flags Into the Hands of the Church

The Mail and Empire, Toronto, 10 November 1898

An interesting and impressive military ceremony will take place on Sunday afternoon, when the old and honoured colours of the Royal Grenadiers will be deposited in St. James' cathedral. The religious exercises appropriate to such an occasion will be conducted by Bishop Sullivan. Last year, it will be remembered, the ladies of Toronto presented the regiment with new colours, which will wave over the volunteers in future, while the old flags, which have been in use for thirty years, will hang on either side of the chancel in St. James'. The Grenadiers will assemble in the Armouries on Sunday afternoon, and a short semi-military service will be held. They will then march to the cathedral and give their colours into the hands of Bishop Sullivan.

This will be the first time that such a ceremony has taken place in Toronto, and the fourth occasion of the kind in the military history of Canada. Colours have previously been deposited in Halifax, Quebec, and Montreal, and great interest has always been shown in the proceedings.

The Royal Grenadiers; A Regimental History of the 10th Infantry Regiment of the Active Militia of Canada

By Captain Ernest J. Chambers (Corps of Guides), 1904

November 13th, 1898, is a date possessing special interest for the Royal Grenadiers, as the one upon which the regiment deposited their old colors with all due honor in St. James' Cathedral. The presence of his Lordship the Bishop of Toronto, the Rector, the Right Rev. Dr. Sullivan, and an array of Canons in their stately robes, the brilliant colors of the uniforms, the impressive formula, all tended to great solemnity; and when the treasured colors, their brilliancy dimmed by the battle and the breeze, were received at the chancel steps by His Lordship, the Bishop, while the organ played "Home, Sweet Home," emotion ran high and the tears were not far from the eyes of the staunchest soldier present. A touching reference by the Rector in his earnest address to the fallen heroes of the Northwest rebellion, drew many an eye to the brass tablet, wreathed in evergreen, and studded with white chrysanthemums, to the memory of Lieut. William Charles Fitch, "killed in action at Batoche," and to the one similarly wreathed, in token of remembrance, to Capt. Andrew Maxwell Irving.

As the clock pointed a quarter to four came a loud knock at the King street door of the church, and the rector, Bishop Sullivan, sent his churchwardens to ascertain who it was that demanded admittance. These officials proceeded to the door, and there learned from the officer standing thereat, who was Lieut. and Adjutant Wilkie, that he "desired speech with the rector." The wardens then closed the door, and returning to the rector, delivered the message, the right reverend gentleman, in reply, saying he would see the officer. Again the wardens proceeded to the door, and on their return once more to the chancel they were accompanied by Lieut. Wilkie, who, with drawn sword, halted at the foot of the chancel steps, and addressing Bishop Sullivan, said: "My Lord, I am commanded by Lieut.-Col. Mason, commanding the Royal Grenadiers, to inform you that he desires to place within this sacred building, for safe-keeping, the old colors of the regiment."

Bishop Sullivan gave his formal assent, and then Lieut. Wilkie returned to convey his answer to Col. Mason.

At the same time the Bishop, clergy, and wardens proceeded towards the King Street entrance, of which had been thrown open to admit the military. A procession was then formed as the doors follows:--- The churchwardens, the choir, the clergy, the bishops, the officers bearing the colors, and the escort, the latter at the shoulder with fixed bayonets. As the whole party advanced up the aisle the hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers" was sung, accompanied by the organ and the band of the regiment, the latter being posted in the transept to the right of the organ.

Lieut. -Col. Mason, followed by Major Bruce and Capt. Cameron, acting major, stepped to the front, and Col. Mason, addressing the rector, said: "My Lord, I have come here with the old colors of the Royal Grenadiers, that have been borne by the regiment for 33 years, with the hope and with the request, that the authorities of this cathedral church will permit these treasured and venerable emblems of loyalty, Christianity, and civilization to find permanent rest wilhin the walls of this sacred building, in the midst of a loyal and God-fearing population." Bishop Sullivan, in reply, said that the authorities would not only receive the colors and permit them to be place in the church, but would feel honored by the trust.

The colors, he intimated, would be sacred objects, and the church authorities would prize them as mong their most sacred treasures. The colors, being handed to the rector, he handed them to the Bishop of Toronto, who in turn laid them upon the altar, the escort presenting arms before the old colors were handed over by the majors.

The cathedral was crowded every part, few more impressive ceremonies being ever held within its walls. The Rector, Bishop Sullivan, preached a sermon of rare eloquence and well worthy the occasion. For many years worthily had these colors been borne by the regimemt, and now, with ceremony combined, they are given an honored resting place.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Regimental Colours for Canadians (1943)
Topic: Tradition

Regimental Colours for Canadians

Fought in Dieppe Raid

The Glasgow Herald, 17 July 1943

The King, in the uniform of a Field-Marshal, presented their first colours to two famous Canadian regiments, the Royal Regiment of Canada and the South Saskatchewan Regiment, on a parade ground in the Southern Command yesterday.

Both regiments fought at Dieppe, and survivors of that famous raid were among those on parade.

The Queen stood at the King's side as he took the colours and handed them to kneeling officers of the two regiments.

The King said:—

"In olden days regimental colours were carried into action. They used to form the rallying point round which the battle raged, and they were more precious to all ranks than life."

"To-day colours are no longer carried on the battlefield, but they still remain the emblems and the inspiration of courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion to duty, and they are guarded no less jealously and no less reverently than those of old.

Officers and n.c.o.s of the Scots Guards, who trained the Canadians for their ceremonial drill, watched their pupils with critical eye, but found their marching and drill faultless.

The King and Queen lunched in the officers' mess of the Saskatchewans. The menu was cold chopped ham, cold peas and diced carrots, followed by a tart.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 26 September 2014

The Bayonet--Spirit Weapon
Topic: Tradition

The Bayonet—Spirit Weapon

We all know that the bayonet is seldom used to kill an enemy.* Combat experiences of World Wars I and II have pointed up this fact. It is difficult to find a man who has actually killed with cold steel. Bullets are better; no soldier in his right senses will engage in a bayonet duel while he still has a loaded rifle. Bullets are surer, easier.

[US Army] Infantry School Quarterly, Vol 37, No 2, October, 1950
By Major Schiller F. Shore, Infantry

Editor's Note: This article represents the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of The Infantry School.

We all know that the bayonet is seldom used to kill an enemy.* Combat experiences of World Wars I and II have pointed up this fact. It is difficult to find a man who has actually killed with cold steel. Bullets are better; no soldier in his right senses will engage in a bayonet duel while he still has a loaded rifle. Bullets are surer, easier.

For these reasons the bayonet and bayonet training have fallen into a period of what is known as "deemphasis." This is a long and nebulous word for "forget it; you won't need it."

It is easy to see the logic behind "deemphasis" of the bayonet. If we're not going to use it, let's cut out the hours spent on bayonet training and put them to use on training we do need.

This has been done. The hoarse-voiced bayonet instructors have disappeared. And bayonet training is now con sidered as merely the excellent physical conditioner that it is.

The writer maintains that this is excellent logic but poor psychology.

We have already discussed the logic of deemphasis, and few of us will find fault with it. But let us now look at the psychology of it.

Our infantrymen are taught to "close with and capture or destroy the enemy." This is the ultimate goal of all training. In the final phase of an assault our infantrymen come within--for want of a better word--spitting distance of the enemy. Or, if you prefer, close combat.

Well, what weapon in all our armament is symbolic of close combat?

I think it is the bayonet and what goes with it--the spirit of the bayonet, offensive-mindedness, and the will to kill.

All these things are tied in, in some intangible way, with the bayonet on the end of the rifle. I believe it belongs there, that it looks good there, that even though it seldom explores an enemy gut (bullets being better), the sight of cold steel brings fear to the defender and an extra bit of courage and confidence to the man who knows how to use it if he has to.

By "deemphasizing" the bayonet and the spirit of the bayonet as we used to teach it, this writer believes that we subtract in some measure from the spirit of the offensive and the will to close with the enemy. We strip ourselves of a "spirit" weapon that cannot be replaced by a pistol, a knife, a flamethrower, or any other lethal device. The bayonet is a tradition that we should not discard. Let us "reemphasize" the bayonet. Bring back the old time bayonet sergeants (though modifying their enthusiastic opinion that the bayonet is the only weapon). Let us reinstate cold steel as the symbol of final assault, even though bullets rightly do most of the killing.

*NOTE: A recent and notable exception is the case of Major John Cook, late of The Infantry School in the Korean War. Surrounded by infiltrating Communists, Cook emptied his pistol into the charging Reds, picked up a rifle, shot several of the enemy, and then, his ammunition gone, used his bayonet for a final kill before he himself was killed. He was awarded the DSC.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Colours in Action
Topic: Tradition

The Colours in Action

From "Military Matters"
The Toronto Daily Mail; 6 May 1882

"The last occasion on which colours were carried into action was on 26 January 1881, during the Boer War in South Africa. the occasion was at Laing's Nek and the regiment concenred was the 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment. A year later, an order was published that owing to the altered form of attack and the increased range of musketry, Colours would not be carried in action."

The Excellence In You, by Dr. Giriraj Shah

Orders were given some time ago by the War Office that colours were no longer to be carried into action. A change so decidedly at variance with the history and traditions of the army, and so humiliating, say the Army and Navy Gazette, could hardly be made the subject of a general order without raising a storm of angry remonstrance.

The London Globe, in referring to this matter, says that "our troops may, at some future time, encounter those of a nation that has not acknowledged that it is afraid to trust its colours to the valour and discipline of its soldiers. If we should capture some of their colours (and this, of course, might happen) we ought to return them as soon as possible, as under such circumstances we could not fairly keep them. When the colours of a regiment, or rather of a "Line battalion," are stowed away to save them from the risk of being captured, a pair of white flags might be served out instead, and precise instructions given as to the correct mode of offering to surrender, or of asking for quarter. Defeat instead of victory is the probably result of a battle for which our reformers are anxious to provide; and some of out latest encounters seem to justify their opinion."

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tradition and Elite Corps
Topic: Tradition

Non-commissioned officers of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, each of whom was decorated with the Military Medal during an investiture at Buckingham Palace, London, England, 31 October 1944. (L-R): Company Sergeant-Major W.P. Minard, "C" Company; Sergeant G.H. Morgan, "B" and "C" Companies; Sergeant W. Noval, "B" Company. Photographer: Lieut. Jack H. Smith. Mikan Number: 3533721. From the Library and Archives Canada virtual exhibit "Faces of War."

Tradition and Elite Corps

Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

It is for this reason that the infantryman, and particularly the infantry officer, sets far greater store by tradition than do members of the other arms; it is a sound instinct which makes him insist upon the differences which distinguish his regiment from others, even if he seems thereby to attribute undue importance to minutae of dress, drill or deportment. Upon precisely such details is founded conviction of the foot soldier that he is indeed one of the elect.

If it is admitted then that the British find pleasure, and perhaps even some moral profit, in their traditions, it seems likely that British soldiers too will tend to prize the military traditions they have inherited. More particularly, the soldier's trade is a dangerous one, especially the infantry soldier's; any man who is to face danger and death must be in some way built up and fortified before he can be confident that he will not flinch from that stern assignment. Saints and martyrs have in themselves enough spiritual toughness and faith to be able to endure without human aid; but the ordinary man, it is suggested, needs to feel that he is one of a specially chosen and selected company, membership of which at once inspires him to the utmost of which he is capable and reassures him that his comrades too are of the same high quality. It may be further suggested that such a consciousness of belonging to a corps d'elite may be induced in four main ways:--

(i)     By selection. Thus the commando raider or the airborne soldier knows that he and his fellows have passed a rigorous physical test and have emerged successfully from a period of intense and exacting training and testing. he is confident that having endured so much nothing can defeat them.

(ii)     By obvious differentiation. This explains why the Royal Navy has no need to try and maintain "crew spirit (if that is the equivalent of regimental tradition): every rating knows that simply by being a seaman he is a different kind of person from a mere landsman, and, because he has mastered an element which the latter instinctively dreads, a superior one: and so are all "they that go down to the sea in ships" along with him.

(iii)     By technical attainment. here again the Royal Navy scores, and so do the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Engineers to both of whom still accrues the prestige due to a "scientific corps": every gunner and sapper knows that he is a skilled man to whom, as to his companions, delicate instruments and weapons of precision are entrusted.

(iv)     By membership in an organization which has its own strongly marked and characteristic habits, standards, codes of behaviour, even a distinctive dress, in a word, its traditions, in which the individual can share and take pride.

It follows that while those in any of the first three classes often enjoy the advantages of the fourth as well (a member of the King's Troop, R.H.A., is an example of a soldier who can be included in all four) the infantry soldier must depend entirely upon the fourth, for it is all that he can hope for. Whatever laudatory things important people can find to say, especially in war-time, about the infantryman, it must be admitted that he is what is left over when all the experts, scientists, and intellectuals have been taken away, and, while everyone else who is employed in the fighting services is some sort of specialist, the infantry soldier is a Jack of All Trades if there ever was one: though he has certainly shown a remarkable aptitude for mastering them successfully.

It is for this reason that the infantryman, and particularly the infantry officer, sets far greater store by tradition than do members of the other arms; it is a sound instinct which makes him insist upon the differences which distinguish his regiment from others, even if he seems thereby to attribute undue importance to minutae of dress, drill or deportment. Upon precisely such details is founded the conviction of the foot soldier that he is indeed one of the elect.

The Senior Subaltern


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tradition and Command
Topic: Tradition

Tradition and Command

Major C.E. Hawes, Honorable Artillery Company (late 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles), "Regimental Tradition in the Infantry of the Line," Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Vol. XCVI, February to November 1951

A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle.

The value of regimental tradition also appears in its effects upon leadership. Here again the commander of the more technical arms has an advantage; the most important part of his task is the application of principles, scientifically established and agreed upon, to a given situation which may indeed be affected by the fact that it occurs in time of war but is not radically altered thereby. Thus, in peace or war, it takes very little time for a seaman with any experience at all to sum up a new Captain: simply by observing the way he shapes he will very soon gain confidence that his commander is among those who can claim with truth, "I never run a ship ashore." Similarly it is very soon clear whether a commander of artillery or engineers is technically competent. But the command of infantry in action is far more closely allied to an art than to a technique: it consists of the application of principles, it is true, but these principles are profoundly modified by the individual commander's view of the way to apply them, in fact, by his personal character. Thus a thrusting Irishman may attack with three companies up, while a cautious Scot may prefer to commit only one company at the outset: both may succeed admirably, but it is probable that neither will have much success at all unless he has somehow gained the confidence of his men before the battle, so that every soldier will go "all out" without anxious fears of something going wrong. Such confidence is based on knowledge, and knowledge is more easily and quickly acquired if both leader and led are on the same metaphorical "wavelength" as the result of a common military culture and upbringing based on shared traditions. A commander of outstanding personality can "get himself across" in any event, but even he will have to overcome that feeling of hostility and mistrust which always meets a stranger: the existence of this time-lag may be of vital importance when a commander takes over just before or even during a battle.

Canadian Army Battle Honours


Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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