INTERIM REPORT OF THE MILITIA COUNCIL FOR THE DOMINION OF CANADA ON THE TRAINING OF THE MILITIA DURING THE SEASON OF 1907.
- To His Excellency the Right Honourable Sir Albert Henry George, Earl Grey, Viscount Howick, Baron Grey of Howick, in the County of Northumberland, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and a Baronet; Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, &c, &c, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Dominion of Canada.
May it Please Your Excellency:
- The undersigned has the honour to present to Your Excellency an interim report on the training of the Militia of the Dominion of Canada, during the year 1907; to be embodied at a later date in the Report of the Militia Council for the year ending March 31, 1908.
- Respectfully submitted, F. W. BORDEN, Minister of Militia and Defence.
Department of Militia and Defence, Ottawa, April 1, 1908.
- While the new system by which the official year ends on March 31, instead of, as formerly, ending on June 30, has advantages for the Militia Service, yet it involves the drawback, that if the report of the Militia Council on the training carried on in the summer camps be delayed until the next official report of the Militia Department is laid before Parliament, the criticisms offered will largely have lost their value. For example: the report on the training carried on in the summer of 1907 will, in the ordinary course, form part of the report to Parliament on the financial year ending March 31, 1908, which report will hardly be published until at the earliest, November, 1908. By that time, not only will the training reported upon have been finished, practically some fifteen months before, but another training season, that of 1908, will have intervened, and any comments made on the former would obviously have lost their force.
- It has, therefore, been decided to publish, in advance of the regular annual report of the Militia Department, the following interim report, which deals especially with the Annual Training of the Militia and the work performed in the Annual Camps of Instruction during the training season of 1907.
- As in former years, a special “Memorandum for Camps of Instruction” was published for the guidance of the troops attending camp in 1907. It was made fuller than before and amended on points where experience had shown it to be desirable.
- In regard to the training and the allotment of time, greater latitude was given to camp commandants, while more attention was directed to musketry and “judging distance” practice. The Memorandum was generally followed, and was found to work satisfactorily. The administration of the camps was, on the whole, well carried out. The dates fixed for camps in the various Districts corresponded to those of the previous year, and appeared to be generally convenient. It is hoped that the system of always having camp in each District upon practically the same date each summer will new be accepted as a general rule, so that all corps who go into camp can know, even before the Militia Order authorizing the camps is published, upon what dates they will be expected to attend.
- The numbers present at the annual camps, though equal in actual numbers, did not reach the high percentage attained in 1906, but in view of the great expansion of trade throughout the country, and the consequent demand for labour, the attendance was certainly good, and better than in previous years.
- The regulations which require the submission of copies of the Service Polls to district headquarters some days previous to camp are still unpopular with commanding officers, who allege that they interfere with their bringing a full muster to camp. Endeavours have been made to abolish all restrictions which could fairly be held to interfere in any way with recruiting, whilst wide latitude as to the numbers enrolled was allowed to squadron,- battery and company commanders. There is little doubt that these regulations, by tending to prevent the bringing of undesirable men to camp, are, on the whole, advantageous, even though at the cost, possibly, of some inconvenience.
- New regulations in regard to efficiency pay were introduced for the Annual Training of 1907. Those previously in force had been open to the criticism that they gave no guarantee that the recipient of efficiency pay would be an efficient soldier, in the sense of being acquainted with his duties. The new regulations imposed qualifications which required, in general terms, that all men, with few exceptions, should attain a certain minimum standard of proficiency,—in the Cavalry and Infantry, at rifle practice; in the Artillery, at Artillery drill and training, and in the other arms a corresponding acquaintance with their special work. Commanding officers were required to certify that non-commissioned officers were conversant with their duties as such.
- The imposition of these requirements gave promising results, and, undoubtedly, tended largely to raise the standard of rifle shooting, and military training, generally. While, no doubt there were some evasions of the regulations, yet, on the whole, they were observed and the majority of the men qualified satisfactorily. In some cases company officers failed to realize their responsibility for seeing that the men under their command had every opportunity afforded them of qualifying. It rests with the company commander to set a good example by making himself a good shot, by helping to teach his men, and by seeing that every man gets proper facilities for qualifying himself as efficient. The officers who failed to realize their responsibility were, fortunately, few.
- There still exists a deficiency of qualified subaltern officers and competent section commanders, which is much to be regretted. Unqualified officers do not appear to take advantage of the special opportunities afforded them for qualifying while at camp.
- The conviction of the Militia Council that, so soon as it is financially possible, the period of training of the militia should be extended, must again be recorded. Men cannot be expected to learn even the elements of their work in 12 days.
- As last year, the Young Men’s Christian Association again did excellent work in the various Camps, and by their efforts added much to the comfort of the troops. The Militia Council desire to record their warm appreciation of that work.
- Much progress was made during the year in the adaptation of the Central Camp Ground at Petawawa to its extended use by the troops, and excellent work in that connection was done by the Royal Canadian Engineers. The acquisition of the properties included within the camp area made considerable and satisfactory progress. Those properties were acquired by mutual agreement between the owners and the Department without recourse to expropriation. Some few owners still remain to be dealt with.
- The water supply was largely extended, and, as last year, the water proved to be of excellent quality and entirely free from contamination. During the occupation of the camp, in the month of August, by the Permanent Force, several cases of enteric fever made their appearance. They did not spread through the camp, and a careful and exhaustive enquiry showed that, in all probability, they were due to impure milk, bought in the neighbourhood. Special precautions will be taken to meet this danger in future camps.
- It is highly desirable that a complete system of drainage should be established for the permanent portion of the camp ground. Plans have been drawn up and it is in contemplation to commence work at an early date.
- The existing artillery ranges are satisfactory, but have the drawback that artillery and rifle practice cannot be carried on with safety at the same time. And, further, the field batteries which practice at Petawawa are beginning to know the ground rather too well. New ranges are, therefore, required, and steps have been taken to open them up to the west of the railway.
- Two great needs of the camp are better provision for the recreation of the men after work hours, and the prevention of dust. Certain areas have accordingly been set aside for recreation grounds, and a considerable portion of the space occupied by the tents has been seeded down to grass.
- The troops using the camp suffered much from poor railway accommodation, and the many delays in transit. These latter were mainly attributable to shortcomings of the railway management, and it is to be regretted that representations to the railway authorities failed to secure any appreciable amelioration. A considerable extension to the siding accommodation in the camp is contemplated.
- The lack of adequate accommodation for musketry still continues at some camps. Difficulties in connection with expropriation prevented the range which had been selected near Kingston from being got ready in 1907 for the troops in camp, who were, therefore, obliged to fire their course entirely with gallery ammunition.
- The militia properties available for training purposes at Niagara and London are still quite inadequate to the number of troops who assembled there. Extra land is now being acquired at Niagara, so that the usefulness of this historic camp ground for the training of the militia will be greatly enhanced.
- The troops of Military District No. 4. trained at Petawawa. Owing to the late winter, however, the work of preparing the camp was seriously delayed and as a consequence the camp ground was rather cramped, and the comfort of the troops suffered thereby. This will not be the case in future. The camp of the Eastern Townships Cavalry Brigade was this year held at Granby, mainly on account of the rifle range available at that place. Apart from this advantage, the site available was too restricted to be satisfactory for cavalry work, and the railway accommodation cannot be described otherwise than poor.
- The camp ground and range at Three Rivers are fairly satisfactory. A portion of the former has, however, been cut off by enclosures, and the brush is growing up rapidly. These matters are receiving attention.
- At Levis, the hollow which formerly existed in the middle of the camp ground has been filled up, to the general advantage of the camp. The camp at this place has always hitherto been pitched in too small a space, with the results of undesirable overcrowding. It was intended that in 1907 the tents should cover a much larger area than before, and extra ground for training purposes was cleared, to compensate for the diminution of the parade ground in front of the tents. Officers in command, however, proved disinclined to take their men beyond the camp precincts for drill, with the result that the parade ground was much overcrowded and the training of the troops suffered. The Department owns a considerable amount of land in the neighbourhood, and it will probably be necessary to reclaim some of the land at present under lease, or, at any rate, obtain the power of manoeuvring over it during the camp period.
- Sussex camp has been much improved by the clearing away of brush, and the levelling of the ground on which it stood. It is still small for the number of troops encamped there. The new rifle range has been a great advantage.
- The camp ground at Aldershot proved, as last year, an excellent site, which, as the ground is gradually cleared, will go on improving. In time it also will require extra space, and the uncleared land adjoining it should be acquired.
- The course of training for the Active Militia during the summer of 1907 was more fully carried out than probably ever before. In laying down the system of training, attention was devoted almost exclusively to the essential portions of the training manuals, omitting all movements which were not generally useful for manoeuvre in the field. This system has worked well, and has resulted in greater attention being paid to the true objects of drill.
- During the drill season 18 regiments and 1 squadron of cavalry, 53 rural infantry regiments, 24 batteries of field artillery, 3 field companies of engineers, 11 companies of army service corps and 15 field ambulances were trained in camps. Of the city corps 40 regiments were trained at their local headquarters. The interest taken in musketry and rifle practice continues to increase. With the exception of Kingston camp, all troops in camp fired a course with service ammunition. Commanding officers generally have recognized the importance of systematic instruction and have helped the camp staff in every way “Judging distance” practice has been carried out. As a result of the increased attention shown, the musketry efficiency of the militia has much improved.
- Subtarget guns and miniature ranges were widely used for the instruction of recruits and poor shots, with excellent results.
- The weak feature of the militia force still remains,—the deficiency in officers who are leaders of men. It is noticeable that the type of man in the ranks is, as a rule, high. He has much intelligence and aptitude for military work, but too often his officers and non-commissioned officers are not equally well qualified to lead him. In this respect, however, some improvement upon the conditions of last year were noticeable. It is largely upon the recognition by squadron and battery officers of the fact that they alone are responsible for the training of their commands that all true efficiency must rest.
- The work of the cavalry has shown a marked improvement during the period under review. The separate syllabus of training for 1st and 2nd year men were followed closely and with satisfactory results. Musketry and “judging distance” practice were carried out with zeal and intelligence, and cavalry officers generally are beginning to take much interest in this important part of the training of modern cavalry. The scouting and reconnaissance work showed an improvement upon that of last year, but much practice is still required.
- The condition of the arms and saddlery left a good deal to be desired, and in the 3rd Cavalry Brigade no field forges were brought to camp. This is a serious mistake. No cavalry regiment which cannot shoe its own horses can be fit to take the field.
- The horses brought to camp were about the same as in the previous year. There is still room for improvement in this respect.
- There was some improvement in the number of officers absent from training, but there were still far too many who were not present on the day of inspection.
- Twelve days is too short a period for the training of mounted troops. If a longer training period cannot be allowed generally, that allotted to the cavalry should be increased to the 16 days already allowed for the artillery.
- The advantages derived from the central training camp at Petawawa are apparent in the improvement of all artillery batteries and companies which have trained or fired their practices there during the past three years. During the summer of 1907, 5 brigades and 1 battery of field artillery did the whole of their training at Petawawa, where great assistance was given them by the staff of the Artillery School. Artillery training has gradually come to be of a very intricate character, and without good service ranges, such as those at Petawawa, efficiency of the artillery arm could hardly be looked for. Fire effect, alone, is the artillery aim and object, and considerable improvement in this respect is noticeable. Telephones were this year successfully used in the field at practice.
- While the fire discipline is rapidly improving, there does not appear to be the same improvement in mobility, which is also highly important. The riding was generally very fair, but the manoeuvring in many instances not nearly so good, thus showing the need of more practice over uneven ground.
- The horsing of the artillery in 1907 was rather better than in the previous year, except in the case of the Nova Scotia batteries, which still continue to find a difficulty in obtaining suitable animals.
- An important need of the artillery arm is the better training of officers commanding batteries in ranging and the method of obtaining fire effect. Ranging is generally carried out far too slowly. Greater attention might with advantage be paid to the training of gun-layers, fuse setters and telephone specialists. The four days additional training allowed to the artillery had valuable results.
- The engineer companies of the Active Militia worked uniformly well. They suffer under the difficulty of having much to learn, and too short a time to learn it in, even more than the other arms do. The time available is also shortened by the necessity for unpacking, checking, and repacking the material on charge.
- A tendency is observable to employ the engineer companies too much on works in connection with the camp rather than in their own special training. It is to be remembered that engineers are not skilled labourers provided to carry out construction work in camp, though they may, of course, be utilized in case of emergency. They are sent to camp in order to be trained in engineer duties for the field, and they should not be taken away from learning those duties.
- The good work done by the Dalhousie Engineer Cadet Company in connection with the annual mobilization of the Halifax garrison deserves a word of commendation.
- The training of the infantry is improving, but much remains still to be learned. The essential point of all infantry training is the development of the power of “leading” in the officers, and of discipline, self-reliance, and the intelligent use of the rifle on the part of the men.
- As camp commandants have become more accustomed to the modern system of training, it has been found feasible to allow them more discretion in the allotment of time to the several subjects laid down in the Syllabus. The freedom of action thus allowed has worked well, especially where the brigade commanders have been well up in their work.
- The efficiency pay has been the means of increasing the interest of all ranks in the use of the rifle, and has thereby added greatly to their efficiency. Company officers have been encouraged to shoot with their companies and to assist their men at practice. All company officers should know how to teach their men to shoot and be themselves able to make, at least, a fair score at the targets. Advanced guards, scouting and outpost duties were as usual too little practised by the infantry arm. As regards equipment, the dress of the infantry is deserving of attention. If it were possible to introduce the service dress for all rural corps it would be a distinct advantage. More attention on the part of company officers to the quality of boots which the men bring to camp is much required. There is probably no regiment in the country which could perform a week’s march with the boots which the men were wearing.
- Composite battalions, made up from city corps, attended at the camps in Western Ontario and in Nova Scotia with distinct advantage to their outdoor efficiency. It is a pity that more city corps do not take advantage of these opportunities.
- In order to give every facility to enable officers of the “Active Militia” to qualify for their rank, provisional schools were authorized during the year at the following centres:—
- Woodstock, Montreal, Cobourg, Stratford, St. Thomas, Quebec, Goderich, Belleville, Winnipeg, Barrie, Edmonton, Grenfell, Begina, Toronto, St. Catharines.
In addition, courses of instruction for provisional officers were held at all camps where officers desired to present themselves. But as a rule only a few officers had taken the trouble to read up beforehand and so there were many failures.
- With few exceptions the units belonging to these corps worked well and gave satisfaction. In these small units the commanding officer is everything, and on him mainly depends the success or failure of the unit in carrying out its work. The results obtained in camp were generally creditable and the system of allowing the Army Service Corps to be responsible for the slaughtering of animals and baking of bread should be extended as widely as possible. The Medical units, with but one or two exceptions, were efficient. The sick were well looked after. The Army Bay Corps proved itself of much value in facilitating the preparation of the pay-rolls of the troops, the issue of pay and efficiency pay, and preventing unauthorized charges.
- Successful field days were held at several camps, notably Niagara, but in some cases the best use was hardly made of the opportunity, mainly owing to want of experience on the part of camp commandants and the camp staff. In some camps too the lack of available ground prevented the holding of field days. As remarked last year, the difficulties brought to light at these exercises show the necessity for affording senior officers opportunities for drawing up plans for field days and for practising the handling of troops.
- As already remarked, it is to be regretted that so few city corps availed themselves of the opportunity to form composite battalions and attend for some days in camp. The remarks made in regard to the training of the rural corps apply generally to the city corps, though the city corps officers are generally better up in their ceremonial work. Successful field days were held by some city corps on Thanksgiving Day, especially in the Dundas Valley, near Toronto, on which occasion practically the whole of the city corps of Military District No. 2 attended the manoeuvres. The city corps of Halifax also turned out for the annual mobilization of that Fortress and did excellent work, showing commendable keenness and knowledge of the ground. It is much to be regretted that the contemplated field day for Montreal had to be abandoned on account of the weather, and that the city corps at Ottawa were unable to get a sufficient attendance to hold a field day.
- In the report of last year it was remarked that the efficiency of the Permanent Force would gain greatly if a specific period could be set aside for the more advanced training of the units themselves, and regret was expressed that it had been found impracticable in 1906 to assemble them for the purpose at Petawawa. Hitherto they have been expected to train the units of the Active Militia in the higher branches of military science without having had any opportunity of practically studying these branches themselves. Considering these drawbacks, the results obtained have been highly praiseworthy, but there can be little ground for surprise that the Permanent Force should occasionally have fallen short of what was expected of it.
- In 1907 the Militia Council found themselves in a position to assemble practically the whole of the mobile unites of the Permanent Force at Petawawa Camp for training. It was the first occasion in their history in which the several arms and units of that force had had the opportunity of working together, and thus learning their business, not only as separate branches of the service, but as component parts of an organized military force. In a military sense it is impossible to overestimate the value of this training, of which full advantage was taken by the troops concerned.
- The units assembled were “A” and “B” Squadrons, Royal Canadian Dragoons; “A” and “B” Batteries, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery; a Heavy Battery, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery; No. 2 Company, Royal Canadian Engineers; a battalion (8 companies) Royal Canadian Regiment, and detachments of Permanent Army Medical Corps, Permanent Army Service Corps and Canadian Ordnance Corps.
- The first object aimed at was to enable units to complete their annual squadron, battery or company training on ground suitable for up-to-date training, which unfortunately was not to be found at any of their own stations. The second object was to follow up this individual training “with a more advanced course of combined training and field operations than had hitherto been possible. One squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons, and one battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, marched to camp by road, thus gaining useful experience. The distance, and consequent length of time involved, prevented this course from being followed by the other units.
- The course of training included:—
- (1.) Service of security: advance and rear guards and outposts by day and night, under service conditions; encampments and bivouacs.
- (2.) Reconnaissance and scouting by cavalry and infantry.
- (3.) Convoys and marches.
- (4.) Fire-discipline and field operations of all arms in combination.
- (5.) Field-firing operations, all arms.
- There can be no doubt but that this training proved a decided success and resulted in a marked improvement in the general efficiency of all branches of the Force. Much keenness and interest were shown in the field operations, which enabled the different arms to study each other’s methods of work and systems of organization, and to consider how best to obtain mutual co-operation on service in the field.
- The Royal Canadian Dragoons were of good physique, intelligent and well mounted. They worked well, notwithstanding the handicap of a small establishment and want of ground for training at their home stations. The importance of horsemanship was, perhaps, hardly enough appreciated.
- Distance will always militate against the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles being trained with other units of the Permanent Force. The squadron, however, made good progress during the year and carried out useful training.
- The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery showed great improvement over the previous year. They were well horsed and for the first time the two batteries had the opportunity of working as a Horse Artillery Brigade. Naturally, a few mistakes occurred, but real progress was also made. Their gun practice, carried out under service conditions, also showed marked improvement, though a little tendency towards too deliberate methods was noticeable.
- The Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery (Heavy Battery) did excellent work both in their own training and as instructors to the heavy batteries of the Active Militia. The coast defence companies at Halifax showed great keenness and a marked improvement in their knowledge of their important work.
- The Royal Canadian Engineers at Petawawa were necessarily employed mainly in the development of the camp, civil labour being difficult to obtain, and as a consequence were not able to take full advantage of the presence of the other arms at the camp to practise combined training. They were, however, brought out for combined field operations whenever possible. They were organized as a complete company, and did their work with keenness and intelligence.
- The Royal Canadian Engineers at Halifax went through a complete course of training during the summer, and their work, at the’ experimental mobilization on November 1, especially as regards electric light work, showed excellent results.
- The Royal Canadian Regiment, which as a rule suffers more than any other corps of the Permanent Force from being split up into detachments, profited greatly from the training it received at Petawawa, where, for the first time since 1894 and the second time in its history, the regiment was brought together and exercised as a complete drill.
- The men were of fine physique, steady under arms and well drilled; the non-commissioned officers generally were intelligent and well selected. The officers, with some conspicuous exceptions, were not proportionately quite so efficient, and showed some disposition to look upon the training as unnecessary trouble. However, as the work went on, a real interest began to be established, and before the end of the training a creditable degree of efficiency was obtained.
- The training of the Departmental Corps—the Permanent Army Medical Corps, Canadian Army Service Corps and Canadian Ordnance Corps—differs to some extent from that of the combatant branches of the service in that the carrying out of their ordinary duties in peace is in itself a more practical training for war than can be the case with the other arms.
- The work performed by all these corps has been uniformly good, and their organization has made satisfactory progress ; more especially in the case of the Canadian Ordnance Corps. There is still noticeable, however, in all departmental corps a tendency to consider their interests distinct from, instead of identical with, those of the rest of the service.
- The organization of the Canadian Army Pay Corps has made progress and much useful work has been accomplished in introducing system into the pay arrangements, examining accounts which it had not previously been possible to check, and, generally, ensuring prompt payments and prevention of waste.
- During the training season of 1907 instruction in signalling was well carried out by the Signalling Staff and Signalling Corps.
- With one exception all officers of the Signalling Corps are now qualified, and the majority of the non-commissioned officers and men of the District Sections hold certificates.
- The garrison signalling classes were well attended and the number of certificates issued was far in excess of that of previous years.
- The new Signalling Establishments authorized by General Order 58 of 1907 are already having the effect of giving greater permanency to the Signalling Sections, with the accompanying result of greater efficiency.
- The practical instruction given to the signallers of the permanent units at Petawawa had excellent results. The country for many miles round was reconnoitred in a signalling sense, and intercommunication established. There is still room for improvement, however, in the signalling of these corps, and commanding officers should devote attention thereto.
- As regards general efficiency in signalling in the Permanent Force. The following stood first in their respective arms: the Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles; “A” Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery; No. 3 Company, Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, and “I” Company, Royal Canadian Regiment.
- In the Active Militia, the 77th Wentworth Regiment (a rural corps) again headed the list for general efficiency in signalling, while the 8th Regiment, “Royal Rifles,” was second, and the 66th Regiment, ” Princess Louise Fusiliers,” was third.
- Of the Signalling Corps, No. 3 Section (Kingston) stands first, with No. 12 (Charlottetown) second.
- As regards signalling in the artillery, the marks allowed for it in the general efficiency competition have proved a great incentive to proficiency in this very important branch of artillery work. No. 3 Battery of the 2nd “Montreal” Regiment, Canadian Artillery stands first, the 13th “Winnipeg” Field Battery, second, and No. 1 Company, 3rd “New Brunswick” Regiment, Canadian Artillery, third, in this respect.
- Rural corps showed considerable improvement over previous years in semaphore signalling. The following corps were the best at their respective camps:—
- Niagara 77th Wentworth Regiment.
- Kingston 5th “Princess Louise Dragoon Guards.”
- Granby 7th Hussars.
- Three Rivers 64th “Chateauguay and Beauharnois” Regiment-
- London 30th Regiment “Wellington Rifles.”
- Levis, P.Q 92nd Dorchester Regiment.
- Sussex, N.B 74th Regiment “The Brunswick Rangers.”
- Charlottetown 82nd “Abegwait Light Infantry” Regiment.
- Aldershot 78th Regiment “Highlanders.”
- Petawawa 56th Grenville Regiment “Lisgar Rifles.”
- The signalling Section of the Mount St. Louis Cadet Corps, Montreal, deserves special mention. It is hoped that other Cadet Corps will follow the example thus set.
- The usual courses at the School of Musketry at Rockliffe were carried out by the instructional staff with zeal and thoroughness, and with much benefit to the officers and men attending them. It is still to be regretted that more corps of the Active Militia cannot send officers to take a course at the school. The benefit to the shooting of a corps which accrues from being able to command the services of a specially trained officer is very considerable.
- Sub-target guns and gallery ammunition were very generally used, both at the School and at all camps, for the instruction of recruits and poor shots, with most beneficial results.
- Appended is the Report of the Inspector-General for the year ended December 31, 1907.
- E. F. JARVIS, Secretary, Militia Council.