REPORT OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL.
Ottawa, February 2, 1914.
- From the Inspector-General Canadian Militia,, to the Secretary. Militia Council.
Sir,—In reporting upon the Militia for the year ending December 31, 1913, little remains to be said, as the voluminous and comprehensive report of the Inspector General of the Oversea Forces covers the entire general situation. There are, however, points to be touched on which may impress themselves on the attention of the Honourable the Minister of Militia, and the Militia Council.
THE PERMANENT CORPS.
The reduction of the Establishment of the Corps has greatly interfered with its usefulness and almost entirely prevented its own annual training.. While all are animated with a desire to maintain the status of their several units in an efficient condition, and to prove themselves capable of imparting instruction to the Active Militia, their small numerical strength greatly interferes. Their clothing and personal equipment should be most complete and correct, and a larger margin of reserve held on regimental charge. New Dress Regulations are urgently needed. Whenever the Permanent Corps have been called on to afford instruction and instructors, the greatest satisfaction has been given.
The barrack accommodation in many places is unsuitable and obsolete. Stanley Barracks, Toronto, while yet occupied, has been given over to the Exhibition authorities and is embraced in their grounds. Until new barracks are ready, I the troops could be transferred to London, Ont. The Tete-du-pont Barracks, Kingston, is beyond further repair, and is unfit for occupation. The same may be said of the St. Louis Barracks, Quebec. The company of the Royal Canadian Regiment stationed there, might with advantage be sent to rejoin the Regiment at Halifax, particularly as the number of officers and non-commissioned officers joining for instruction at this Station, is small. In the Royal Canadian Regiment changes of Station of the companies should be made periodically, and on a prepared roster.
ACTIVE (NON-PERMANENT) MILITIA.
The efficiency and general condition of the Active Militia, remains much as heretofore, except in the case of the Artillery, Engineers; and Army Medical Corps, who have wonderfully improved. The system of administration and instruction is sound enough, but the number of recruits, year after year, prevents any permanent advance. Some remedy must be sought, and I desire to suggest that the lax method of enrolment is primarily to blame. Officers responsible for the enlistment and enrolment, should be impressed with the necessity of fully explaining to their men the conditions involved and the obligations undertaken on enlistment. In the Cavalry and Infantry, the supervision of commanding officers and majors, would be of direct advantage, and these officers should be given to understand that it is expected of them. In the Infantry as in the Ca ‘airy, the companies should be treated as the units. To further aid in the inducements to enrol in the Militia, I strongly urge that local inexpensive armouries be provided at company headquarters. Renting a mere shelter for the arms is insufficient. A good armoury would provide a comfortable meeting place for the men, and give them a permanent interest in their corps. Provision should also be made in armouries for Mobilization stores. The Militia is enlisted in many scattered localities, consequently the people never see the unit in which they are interested. To remedy this, I suggest that infantry regiments train at local headquarters every third year. In all probability a rifle range can be obtained, so that the all-important musketry training could be carried out. It may be advanced that the instruction imparted would not be as complete as if attending a large camp. Possibly this may be so, but the general welfare of the force would be promoted amongst those whose good-will it is most important to have. The personal equipment of the troops requires early attention. All troops going into camps of instruction should have with them a complete equipment. The ” Oliver ” equipment already issued to the Infantry, with some modifications can be, made most satisfactory. For the alterations necessary the equipment should be returned to Stores and re-issued, or proper artificers sent to regimental headquarters.
All officers should realize more than they do the responsibility assumed by them in accepting commissions. They should make it a point to attend at the Royal Schools of Instruction maintained for the purpose. Commanding officers would much advance the efficiency and standing of their corps, if care is exercised in the selection of officers in the first place. A distribution to commanding officers of the blank Forms on which reports to Divisions and Headquarters are made, would enable officers to realize what is expected of them.
City Corps (Infantry).
The City Corps training in the evenings for many days in the year, maintain a fairly high proficiency, but their knowledge of camp life and tactical exercises is necessarily limited. The five days advanced training in Camp, inaugurated for them three years ago, is now appreciated and understood. The larger number attending every year is a satisfactory indication of the benefits derived.
The increase in the number of cadets enrolled is very gratifying, signifying as it does the approval of the movement and the sympathy of the parents. The direct result in the increase of the Militia from this source, cannot be felt for a few years yet, but it will come and will be of a decided advantage. At the Cadet Camp at Niagara, the improvement over the previous and first year was most marked. A rather advanced tactical exercise was carried out with surprising intelligence. As an early military training it will not be forgotten.
With the exception of Petawawa, and possibly Aldershot, the training grounds are entirely too limited. After camping space is provided little or nothing remains for drill and tactical exercises. A scheme governing the mobilization of the militia force has been prepared and issued to those concerned. While this scheme is comprehensive, it would be of much value and interest were it applied to a selected portion of the troops, thus affording a test and demonstration of its practical application. That expense would be involved is, of course, to be understood. For a test, the mobilization of a brigade of infantry might be ordered, or, if still greater economy is desired, one regiment. Such mobilization of a selected unit could form part of the annual training, and take place at that period. Such selected unit to be given sixteen days’ drill pay, as they would be under arms for fully that period. “Were this carried out, many shortcomings would be manifested, affording a valuable lesson to the brigadier and the regimental staff, as well as the company commanders. For a succeeding year a squadron of cavalry might be selected.
Naturally following on mobilization is the question of transport by rail, water, and road. The transport of the troops and stores in the event of active service conditions in the Country, would be of great difficulty, as the movement must necessarily be of an Easterly and Westerly direction by rail, alone: our entire frontier. This frontier is much exposed. The entire transport west of Montreal is dependent on a coal supply coming entirely from a foreign country. On a previous industrial dispute, the central portion of Canada was entirely cut off from its normal supply. “Railways were left in a precarious condition, and had the mine conditions lasted two days longer, some trains would have been cancelled. Consideration should be given this, and the question of large military coal depots receive attention. A turn over in this coal could be had by selling at market price to the general public. Our Ordnance Stores, ammunition and supplies are at present concentrated in large centres, and even now in time of peace, moved with difficulty. The remedy for this is, small reserves at mobilization or regimental headquarters.
DIVISIONAL AND DISTRICT STAFFS.
In the administration of the Divisions and Districts, the centralization at Headquarters tends to hamper action and prevent individual responsibility. As an instance: when Engineer Estimates have been approved and allotted, the divisional commanders might be, without detriment, permitted to dispose of detail expenditure.
Signalling has much improved and certain selected units are very efficient. It is regretted, however, that three or four units of the Permanent Force, are reported to be “Very Bad.”
Attached is a classification of units and percentages trained in 1913. The shortage of men trained was undoubtedly due to the economic conditions of the Country, and the difficulty of labour keeping pace with production. In rural units, bounty limits should be adhered to, and absentee officers placed on the Reserve.
- I have the honour to be, sir. Tour obedient servant.
- W. H. COTTON, Major-General, Inspector-General.