ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MILITIA COUNCIL FOR THE YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 31, 1906.
CENTRAL CAMP AT PETAWAWA.
- An extended use of the new central camp at Petawawa was made during 1906 in connection with artillery training. The erection of the necessary buildings, water arrangements, &c., were carried out in the early part of the year by the Royal Canadian Engineers with considerable ability, and it is understood that the camp gave general satisfaction to the officers who attended. The railway arrangements, however, left room for improvement. They were not good, and caused in some cases much inconvenience to the troops attending camp. The local agent of the railway (C.P.E.) did his best, but was unable to cope with all the work which had to be done.
- It had been intended to assemble at Petawawa, during July and August, all arms of the permanent force, for combined training, but it was found that, owing to recruiting difficulties, the number of men who would be available from the cavalry and infantry would not have been sufficient to justify the expense involved in their transport. It was, therefore, decided to confine the camp for the year to the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery (Heavy Battery), Royal Canadian Engineers, and to the ‘gun practice’ detachments of Militia Field, and Heavy Batteries.
- As remarked last year, it is upon the standard of efficiency maintained in the permanent force that the efficiency of the militia in general ultimately depends, since the most important duty of the permanent force is to supply instructors for the active militia.
- During 1906 the permanent force has had to struggle against the handicap of a strength much below establishment. This weakness has been due partly to the difficulties of accommodation, partly to the difficulty experienced in obtaining recruits, and to the prevalence of desertions. Both these last may be directly traced to the unprecedented demand for labour throughout Canada generally.
- Notwithstanding these drawbacks the work performed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles and Royal Canadian Dragoons was creditable, especially when the lack of proper training ground is considered.
- An innovation was introduced into the training of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery this summer, when the two batteries composing the brigade proceeded by route-march from their headquarters at Kingston to the central camp at Petawawa, a distance of 184miles. The march, in many cases through country only recently opened up, was well managed; the country people on the route had an opportunity of seeing their militia force, and the batteries gained valuable experience.
- Unfortunately the condition of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery cannot be said to be satisfactory. The matter has received the earnest consideration of the Militia Council, and steps have taken which will, it is hoped, improve matters. At the same time it is but bare justice to state that officers and men of both batteries worked heartily and well at the Petawawa artillery camp, where for two months they were almost incessantly at work assisting the batteries of the active militia.
- Their own gun practice was not very satisfactory. It is quite probable that both men and horses had been rather overworked and were inclined to be stale. Steps will be taken to remedy this next year.
- The Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery at Halifax and Quebec have worked well and made good progress during the year. The former have had much to learn and are rapidly becoming efficient in their special work. Their gun practice suffered from delay in supply of the necessary ammunition.
- The Royal Canadian Engineers, outside of Halifax, have again this year been assembled in regimental camp. The work generally has been creditable and the corps is steadily gaining experience. The work done at Halifax is reported to have been exceptionally good.
- The Royal Canadian Regiment, like the rest of the permanent force, has suffered from being under strength. Nevertheless the work done at Halifax and other places has been generally very fair.
- The work of the Permanent Army Medical Corps has been well reported upon during the year.
- The Army Service Corps are rapidly learning their work and have made real progress. With more experience on the part of the officers, the corps will be very valuable.
- The Ordnance Stores Corps devotes much attention to its duties. Its officers should be, and no doubt will become in time, the technical expert advisers of officers commanding districts and commands, in all matters relating ‘to the proper equipment of the troops with what they require for the field, and the proper care of that equipment when in j their charge.
PERMANENT FORCE GENERALLY.
- There can be no doubt but that the efficiency of the permanent force generally would gain greatly if a specific period each year could be set aside for the training of the units themselves. It was unfortunate that this could not be done this year and that the units could not be brought together for combined training at the Petawawa Camp. It is hoped that it may prove feasible to do so in 1907.
- Signalling instruction during the past year has been zealously carried out by the signalling staff and corps of signallers.
- In the permanent force progress is being made but there is still room for improvement. In the city corps signalling is making good progress. In the rural corps in camp considerable keenness was shown, but in many instances commanding officers failed to detail again the men who had been trained the previous year. Hence the majority of the signallers were again only beginners and results were not so good as had been looked for. A proposal to remedy this state of affairs will be submitted shortly. In all 41 officers and 684 non-commissioned officers and men received instruction in semaphore signalling.
- As regards general efficiency in signalling in the active militia, the 77th Regiment (a rural corps) heads the list with a highly creditable record, the 8th Royal Rifles, Quebec- being second and heading the list of the city corps In the permanent force, ‘A’ Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, No. 4 Company, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, and No. 8. Company, Royal Canadian Regiment, took the first place in their respective arms.
- The new Signalling Regulations, promulgated this year, have much facilitated the administration and control of the signalling service. The Garrison Signalling classes held at the various centres were well attended and showed good results, 26 officers and 173 warrant and non-commissioned officers and men obtaining certificates.
PERMANENT FORCE ESTABLISHMENTS.
- Although authority was obtained from parliament in 1905 to raise the establishment of the permanent force to a maximum not exceeding 5,000 men, in order to provide for the garrisons of Halifax and Esquimalt and other requirements, it was decided that the increase should only proceed gradually and as funds were available.
- In spite of the fact that the establishment of the permanent force was thus kept down to the lowest requirements of the service, it was not found possible to obtain sufficient recruits to complete even the reduced establishment. It is to be regretted that the native-born Canadian does not enlist in greater numbers. The fact is probably attributable mainly to the condition of the labour market, for the Canadian soldier is to-day more highly paid than any other regular soldier in the world, receiving, on enlistment, $2 per month more than the United States recruit. There are, at present, two recruiting stations, viz., at Montreal and Toronto ; at the former 117 recruits were obtained and at the latter 231. The question of establishing other recruiting depots in other large centres of population is one to be considered. In this connection it may be recalled that the Imperial Government has, as already stated in paragraph 5, recently sanctioned the enlistment of 300 non-commissioned officers and men belonging to units of the Imperial Army which are now about to be disbanded.
- The supply of officers for the permanent infantry has not been sufficient to complete the authorized establishment, in consequence of the failure of all but two of the infantry candidates to qualify at the examination held at the conclusion of the spring long course at the Royal Military College. Another candidate has recently qualified at the November examination.
CHANGES OF STATION.
- The following changes of station between units of the permanent force have taken place during the year: —
* A ‘ Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, has been transferred from Toronto to St. Jean, P.Q.
* B ‘ Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, has been transferred from Kingston to Toronto temporarily, and No. 7 Company and No. 3 Depot, Royal Canadian Regiment, from St. Jean, P.Q., to Fredericton, N.B.
- The following return shows the state of the permanent force on June 30, 1906:—
- The permanent force have been issued with the Eoss rifle, Mark II, and many rifle associations with the same rifle, Mark I. Complaints, as to these rifles, would not appear to be more frequent than those made about other service rifles, at their first introduction. Defects observed are being rapidly remedied.
- This is a most important branch of the military service, so much so, that no exertions should be spared to maintain it in a high state of efficiency, both as regards personnel and equipment.
- Among the multifarious duties allotted the engineers are: construction, road making, fortification, electric lights, telegraphs, telephones and wireless signals, mechanical and steam appliances. These services are rendered by the fortress, field and telegraph companies, so that their efficiency must be one of concern.
- Work, in the various commands and districts, connected with the construction of rifle ranges, water supply, drainage, fortification, barrack repairs, &c., have been carried out satisfactorily by the Royal Canadian Engineers. To this corps, also, is due the credit of the laying out and construction of the Petawawa Camp, and its various buildings. In addition to the construction of huts and stables, there was the installation of an excellent water and gas supply, as well as telephone and telegraph service.
- The instruction of the various field companies and field telegraphs must shortly be assigned to the Royal Canadian Engineers; by means of established schools and local classes.
- Respectfully submitted, F. W. BORDEN, Minister of Militia and Defence.
- Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, January 12, 1907.
- Ottawa, December 15, 1906.
- From the Inspector-General, Canadian Forces.
- To the Honourable The Minister in Militia Council.
- Sir,—I have the honour to submit the following report upon the state of the militia for the past year, a portion of which report has been collected from sources outside my own branch, as my inspection tour through Manitoba, the Territories and British Columbia, during the season when the more easterly troops were performing their training in camps of exercise, prevented my getting a personal knowledge of their work or efficiency. I, also, missed seeing, during their training, a number of city corps that were, however, thoroughly inspected by competent officers.
- I am unable to furnish complete abstract returns of the state of corps of the several arms of the service, as returns from which the abstract reports are compiled have not all, as yet, been received.
- During the current year I made the usual inspections of the Permanent Units, which I found as satisfactory as could be expected, considering the deficiencies in numbers (a net shortage of 839), and the continual drain upon certain of them to augment the garrisons of Halifax and Esquimalt which continue to remain far under strength.
- The fortress at Quebec, and the depots at which the companies, referred to, are stationed, have, practically, become recruiting stations for the garrisons of Halifax and Esquimalt, consequently the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, at Quebec, and the companies of the Royal Canadian Regiment, west of Halifax, cannot be expected to show efficiency equalling that of corps permitted to carry on their work under ordinary conditions.
- The shortages in the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles militate against their usefulness as instructional units, and, to some extent, against their efficiency, but, in time, these corps may be able to complete their establishments.
- Besides the difficulties in recruiting for the permanent force, and the drain upon it to help to maintain the establishment of the garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt, there is the large number of desertions to be taken into account. These desertions are out of all proportion to the establishments, and the financial loss to the public is very serious, to say nothing of the demoralizing effect upon the force.
- Furthermore, this question of desertion applies equally, from a moral if not a material standpoint, to the active militia, in relation to whom penalties for desertion are seldom enforced; and a large Canadian personnel is being passively educated to treat their sacred promises and oath to faithfully serve their country and bear true allegiance to their Sovereign, in a light and contemptuous manner, that may, at some future day, prove fatal to service in the field. Men of the active militia, as well as those of the permanent force, are attested and take oath to serve for three years; but how many of them think it worth their while to serve the prescribed time or to even secure a proper discharge?
- With regard to drill hall accommodation, at ‘permanent force’ stations, which I called attention to in my report, last year, I beg to be again allowed to call attention to the urgent necessity for having comfortable halls provided, wherein the officers and men attached to Permanent Units, for purposes of instruction, may be made comfortable, particularly during the three months’ course that commences in January of each year.
ROYAL CANADIAN HORSE ARTILLERY.
- The practice of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, which was not very satisfactory, points to the urgent necessity of arrangements being made to enable the batteries to carry out their annual training before practice. No sooner had the brigade proceeded to the practice camp than the greater part of the personnel were required for the purpose of carrying out the gun practice of the militia field batteries. When we add to this the fact that both batteries were much under strength, it will be seen that allowances must be made for the practice not being what should.
- The above remans apply equally to the heavy battery, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, and, in addition, it is to be remembered that this company was only recently’ organized as a heavy battery; the company commander had not, therefore, the opportunity of giving his company the preliminary training it should have had.
- On the other hand the work of this company and that of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, in connection with the practice of the militia artillery units, was very satisfactory.
- Coast Defence Companies and Companies Nos. 1 and 2, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, carried out their training and practice at Halifax this year, for the first time since that fortress had been taken over by Canada. The training is reported to have been good, considering the fact that both companies were new to the work, and, moreover, were much under strength. The practice reports have been forwarded to the Royal School of Artillery for criticism; it is, therefore, impossible at present to state results.
- At Esquimalt it has been impossible to carry out gun practice with the small number of men now there, but a draft is being sent out which will, it is hoped, enable the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery to carry out practice, shortly after their arrival and training.
ROYAL CANADIAN ENGINEERS.
- During the year the strength of the Royal Canadian Engineers was increased by taking over the Imperial garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt, several of the Imperial officers having accepted temporary commissions in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
- In regard to the active militia, as distinguished from the permanent corps, there can be no disputing the important fact that the engineer branch is numerically the weakest of all, computed to be in the proportion of, approximately, one in seventy to the other arms (cavalry, artillery and infantry). It would, therefore, appear most desirable not only to increase this arm, but give it more encouragement, in order that it may improve and expand, and prove itself to be efficient and sufficient for actual service.
- Except at Halifax, where an electrical school and a school of instruction for recruits was carried on, although without any prescribed standard, there were no instructional courses held during the year, and the prospect for such courses being established, outside of Halifax, are not very encouraging. This, therefore, would appear to be an opportune time to establish a thoroughly organized school of engineering at Halifax, distinct from field training at Petawawa, as many facilities now offer at the former station. It’ cannot be but apparent that such a school is most requisite for the training of all newly appointed officers, and to provide for the qualification of, for instance, foreman of works, military machinists, engineer clerks, and others, who, at present, are loaned to Canada from the Imperial Service. The instructional staff, the necessary class rooms, and the material necessary for instructional work are all available at that station, and all that is now required is the authority to go on. What, and whom the instructional staff shall or may be, is a mere matter of detail, and the school might be opened at an early date.
- Officers appointed to the Royal Canadian Engineers should be sent, as soon as possible, to Halifax, school or no school, in order that they may secure the best possible technical and regimental knowledge, and, subsequently, they should be sent to the schools of Military Engineering at Woolwich and Chatham.
- The Director of Engineer Services reports very little change in the state of efficiency of the four field companies, one in particular being in an almost disorganized state for the want, I fear, of encouragement at their station where there is good material going to waste, and, notwithstanding the above state of things, the commanding officer of the corps was taken from his command to act upon the district staff, during annual training, this year.
- The Director of Engineer Services, also remarks that, unless officers and non-commissioned officers, who are very willing ‘to qualify, are given more facilities to do so, it will be difficult for these units to be kept up, at all, and impossible for them to be kept in an efficient state, as regards organization and training.
- In a former report I advocated the recruiting for these companies from the rural districts, as much as possible, and this, strongly emphasize; at the same time, while it is important to secure the interest and services of the students of educational institutions, it has been found that they can seldom attend the annual training in the district camps, consequently the corps of which they form a part suffer in efficiency; this might be overcome, and a great deal of good engendered, were the engineering students formed into separate corps and affiliated with existing engineer companies, as is the custom with cadet corps affiliated with regiments of infantry. In due course these young men will have permeated, so to speak, the whole of Canada, and then, at some future time, should serious contingencies arise, the military knowledge they may have gained, in addition to their professional requirements, would certainly be of great use.
- It is well understood that Canada contains, from end to end, a greater number of well qualified engineers, in proportion to population, than probably any other country; gentlemen, who not only have high scientific and technical knowledge, but, in addition, a varied experience of men and material, and an experience which stands them in good stead when contending with severe climatic conditions, and the difficulties that often surround their existence in the vast areas that form their fields of operation. These men, who might prove so useful in a military sense, wherein they just now are lost to Canada, might be induced to lend their services, as military engineers, by assisting in the formation of companies at convenient centres, somewhat on the lines of the Canadian Corps of Guides, or rifle associations. They would require no equipment or uniform, but each company might be assembled for one day in each year under some modified regulation, at small expense to the public, and thus give all ranks an opportunity to make acquaintance. In case of actual service such corps could not but prove invaluable on the lines of communication; their duties to comprise the maintenance of these lines; the construction of roads, bridges, wharves, &c., and their repair; to assist in the embarkation or debarkation of troops, more especially horses, guns, &c. ; the construction of huts; and various similar duties.
ARMY SERVICE CORPS.
- The several active militia companies of this corps did duty in the camps of instruction during this year, and upheld the standard for efficiency and usefulness they were credited with last year.
- The permanent branch furnished a detachment for duty with the troops in camp, at Petawawa.
- Both the permanent branch and the active militia companies took charge of all supplies, baking of bread and transport and, in some instances, they did the slaughtering.
- At the present time there are detachments of the Permanent Army Service Corps at Kingston, Quebec and Halifax, respectively.
- It is hoped that at an early date a detachment will be furnished for duty at each ‘permanent force’ station.
- The formation of field ambulances that take the place of bearer companies and field hospitals in the non-permanent branch of the Medical Services, is giving marked satisfaction ; the unit, being now intact, can be handled without confusion and do better work than by the former system.
- I found that in the North-west and Manitoba there was a lack of any definite system; no field ambulances were organized for the cavalry at any of their training camps.
- It is important that at least three field ambulance units should be organized for service at Brandon, Calgary and Edmonton, as centres, respectively.
I have the honour to be, sir, Your obedient servant, AYLMER, Brigadier-General, Inspector-General.
- Ottawa, October 31, 1906.
- From the Director-General, Medical Services, Ottawa,
- To the Adjutant-General, Canadian Militia.
PERMANENT ARMY MEDICAL CORPS.
- The establishment of the Permanent Army Medical Corps (total 100 all ranks) is nearly completed.
- The following number of non-commissioned officers have qualified, in accordance with regulations, for ranks as shown hereunder:—
- Assistant wardmasters….. 22.
- In order to promote the efficiency of the service, I strongly recommend that one officer of the Permanent Army Medical Corps be attached every year to the depot of the Royal Army Medical Corps at Aldershot, England, for the purpose of preparing for and taking promotion examinations, and be detailed afterwards to attend the senior course of hygiene held yearly in London, England.
I have the honour to be, sir, Your obedient servant, EUG. FISET, Col. Director-General, Medical Services.