CANADA'S RESERVE ARMY
AN ADDRESS BY MAJOR-GENERAL B. W. BROWNE,, D.S.O., M.C.
The President, John C. M. MacBeth, Esq., B.A., K.C.
Thursday, March 18, 1943.
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Your Honour, Guests, Gentlemen of The Empire Club: The Canadian Militia has always been the keystone of Canadian military organization. It is a well-equipped and well-trained body of men and was the nucleus of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the last war and of the Active Army in this.
The Toronto area is proud of its military tradition. In the time of many of us the sham battle that was fought annually on Thanksgiving Day out in the High Park area was an outstanding event of the year. The expressions, "The Second", "The Tenth", "The Forty-Eighth", were synonymous in every schoolboy's parlance with "The Queen's Own Rifles", "The Royal Grenadiers", "The Highlanders".
"Old times have changed, old manners gone". While the Militia exists the terms most commonly heard now are "The Active Army", "The Reserve Army". Our guest today is chief of the Reserve Army and when one says that Major-General Browne began his military career in 1901, one is not strictly correct. It was in January of that year that he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 29th Regiment, and one does not usually begin his military career as an officer. He went overseas in the last war with the rank of Captain, in 1914, and returned in 1918 with the rank of Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General of the First Canadian Division. In 1919 he was appointed to the Permanent Staff, and, from that time forward his career has been one of uninterrupted progress, and his wisdom and his popularity have grown from more to more.
He has served in Military Districts 2,, 3, 4 and 10. He became Adjutant General in 1940 and an appointment for overseas service in 1942 was cancelled upon his being made Director General of the Reserve Army of Canada.
Besides the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross, he carries the Colonial Auxiliary Forces' Officers Decoration, and the Belgian 'L'Iilitarv Cross.
It is a great pleasure to present to so many of his friends, Major General B. W. Browne, D.S.O., M.C. (Applause)
MAJOR GENERAL B. W. BROWNE: Your Honour, Mr. President, Distinguished Guests, Brother Officers and Gentlemen: I thank you, Sir, most sincerely for the very great honour you do the Reserve Army and me in allowing me to speak to this representative gathering today.
The Reserve Army is older than the Dominion it serves in the greatness of its traditions Yet today it is "new" in its tasks and its opportunities. The Reserve Army is what was formerly known as "the militia", that keen body of citizen soldiers which has been Canada's first line of defence since our country began to emerge as a national entity, at the beginning of the last century. Then, as now, the days were dark. The Hitler of his day (with apologies to the Corsican for such a comparison), Napoleon Bonaparte was engulfing Europe in the tide of war. Britain was threatened, and troops were not to be spared. The British North American Colonies had to look to their own defence.
In those days the Militia was based on universal military service--a system inherited both from English Common Law and from the ancient regime. In fact, this principle of the "nations in arms" was at least theoretically in force until as late as 1904, after which the existing Military Act, as amended in 1927, came into effect. However, in the absence of rigid enforcement of compulsory service, the military and loyalist spirit of the nation found its expression chiefly in the organization, under authority and command of the Governor-General, of local volunteer troops and companies
It was men of this spirit, in all walks of life, who rallied to the call to defend their way of life, when it was threatened in 1812. Their gallant and successful acquittance of their task under Brock at Queenston Heights. and de Salaberry at Chateauguay, at Lundy's Lane and Crysler's Farm, are proud pages of Canadian history. Theirs was the strong foundation of the mutual respect, goodwill and confidence which have characterized our happy relations with the United States for over a century.
In later years, as we experienced the growing pains of nationhood, they were ready to meet and defeat rebellion in the Northwest and to support law and order on other occasions. MajorGeneral C. B. Price, an authority on the Canadian Militia, of which he is himself a distinguished product, has frequently reminded us that the Militia has been called upon on an average of once every fifteen years to fight, either at home or abroad, in defence of freedom. When a new threat arose in Europe in 1914, the Militia was able to aid the Mother Country by providing the backbone of the formidable Army Corps which, under Sir Arthur Currie's inspired leadership, was to earn for Canada an enviable military reputation among the nations.
The end of the first World War brought a revulsion against military service-a revulsion which contributed largely to the present crisis; brought us close to our knees and has us still reeling from the blows. We forgot that the price of peace has always been, and will always be, eternal vigilance and practical preparedness. With the Great War won, with wide oceans on either side, and with the best of relations with our immediate neighbours, soldiering and military vigilance and practical preparedness, with the necessary expenditures, were far from popular. Yet, in the face of every obstacle, including public apathy, the Non-Permanent Active Militia, as it was then known, carried on with unflagging zeal. When the storm broke it was more ready for the deluge than most people realized, except in modern armament.
From that inspired nucleus of 40,000 officers and men, who worked faithfully with so little encouragement in the twenty years of peace, has been built the Active Army of Canada of today. There is hardly a unit of the old militia which does not today possess an active component in the field army which we have created, and which is being concentrated for the formidable task of striking the arch enemy wherever and whenever the right time and place is decided.
This task of seeking to defeat the enemy abroad and keep the ravages of war away from our own soil demanded sand still demands every able bodied man who can be spared. What, then, was to become of the militia? Should it carry on, or was it to be left dormant until the war had been fought?
In the past, a primary role of the Non Permanent Active Militia was a potential aid to the civil power in :the event of internal disturbance. Threats from abroad seemed remote even a few short years ago. Now, it has 'become painfully apparent that, under modern conditions, the possibility of invasion of our soil is no anxious dream. Obviously if the field army was to carry the war to the enemy, Canada had still to guard against any component of the enemy using the same strategy. Moreover, the development of Canada as the great arsenal of the Empire, and its most secure base made it an even more important strategical objective. In short, the N.P.A.M. had not merely to carry on on the old basis. It had to be made stronger, larger, better trained and better equipped, and, to assume greater responsibilities than ever before.
Units were successively mobilized for Active Service from the Non Permanent Active Militia and the continuing element at home was reorganized as a reserve unit to carry on their work and traditions and to assist in recruiting the necessary scale of reinforcements for the active unit. In November, 1940, steps were taken to provide the necessary expansion in numbers, equipment and training to enable the N.P.A.M. to assume new responsibilities and a clearly defined operational role in the defence plans of the Dominion. Concurrently, the NonPermanent Active Militia was redesignated as the Reserve Army. This re-designation had two purposes; first, to emphasize the operational role of the force as distinct from the major "aid to the civil power role" associated with the pre-war N.P.A.M.; and secondly, since the word "militia" had been commonly applied to irregular military forces, to omit it and emphasize that this force of citizen soldiers is part of the "regular" army and not merely a side issue to it.
So the new Reserve Army is the direct heir to the traditions of the old militia. Its regiments and battalions carry the same names and the same honours. It has not only continued to exist as a military force but has more than doubled its size since 1939. It is new in the sense that it has been reorganized and rebuilt on old foundations. It is new in the vital importance of its operational role for the defence of Canada. It is new in that it now possesses full-time commands and staffs whose sole duty is to revitalize and modernize Reserve Army training and to provide a steadily increasing supply of modern equipment.
What are the duties of the Reserve Army, and what is it training for? I have already indicated that, while every available man in the Active Army must be sent to carry the war to the enemy, Canada must still be secured.
The military principles of Concentration and Offensive Action are only possible when those of Security and Economy of Force are applied to its base of operations. One of the world's greatest arsenals of supplies and munitions, Canada is a vital base of operations that must be held at all costs, or our cause is irretrievably lost. Yet it is an area greater to defend than all Nazi Europe and the bloated Japanese Empire combined. As our active divisions are concentrated, one by one, in the main battle zone, this task falls with increasing weight on the Reserve Army. It is therefore faced with a most important task, namely, to keep Canada as the Empire's most secure base, to confront and destroy any forces of the enemy who may endeavour to attack or invade this continent, to give to Canada's Active Forces the assurance that their rear is strongly held when they concentrate for the final assault.
In fulfilling this role the keynote is thorough training and organization for local defence. Each unit must be master of its own locality; know every inch of the terrain and how to take advantage of it. As a corollary, every man must be master of his unit's weapons and equipment, and of modern field-craft. Units must be capable of organizing and defending local strong points, in and behind the screen of coastal defence, which will cost an infiltrating enemy dearly, to locate and engage.
A secondary task is to train for possible subsequent service with the active force, officers and men who are under age or are in a business category or group not required at the time for the Active Army. Thirdly, it still retains the old militia's task of providing aid to the civil power in the event of an emergency.
Much progress has already been made in aiding the release for overseas service of more men for the Active Army. In addition the Reserve Army has done commendable work in providing new recruits for the Active Army. In the period April 1 to December 31, 1942, 8,712 men are known officially to have entered the Active Force from Reserve units. We like to thing; of the Reserve Army today as "the cruise of oil that faileth not", no matter how great the demands which are made upon it.
The new Reserve Army consists of twelve Brigade Groups-one in each Military District, with the exception of M.D. No. 6, which has two-and all other units not included in these groups. The Brigade Group is a hard-hitting, compact force of all arms comprising brigade group headquarters, a reconnaissance squadron, a field regiment of artillery, a field company of engineers, three infantry battalions and one machine gun battalion together with the necessary ancilliary complements of signals, and supply, medical and ordnance services. Each Brigade Group has a full-time commander and small staff to supervise operational planning, training and administration.
As to those who may join the Reserve Army, the following classes are eligible
First, men between the ages of 17 and 19. Those under 18 to be enlisted as boys.
Second, men between the ages of 19 and 50 who (1) Have been granted postponement of Military Training; or (2) Are not designated for Military Training under the National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations; or (3) Have been called up but who belong to a medical category below that required for Military Training under the N.R.M. Act.
Third, men to whom the National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations do not apply.
Fourth, students, undergoing approved military training under National Selective Service Mobilization Regulations.
This is a large field, but what I want to emphasize is something which is already known to most clear-thinking patriots in Canada, namely, that every man who is eligible should be in either the Active or the Reserve Army; regardless of his civil preoccupations; regardless of his other war efforts; regardless of the war bonds he may buy; regardless of his blood donations. Regardless of all these factors he must be ready and capable, should the need arise, to take up arms and fight for his hearth and home and country. To fight effectively you need to know how, and knowing how, takes time, hard work and personal devotion.
This brings us to consideration of the type of men we have and want in the Reserve Army or--perhaps, I might say, the spirit of the man. The first requirement is a high sense of duty--of double duty--to his job as well as to the Reserve Army. He must be determined to absorb the basic elements of the military art as quickly as possible. He must be serious minded, appreciating fully the situations he may have to meet tomorrow and in the days after tomorrow. As a member of his unit team he must take a personal satisfaction in a job well done-and not be easily satisfied. He should not consider himself a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night soldier but a soldier all day and every day; a soldier who, but for his technical disqualification, and essential war work, would like to be in the Active Force; compelled, perhaps, to serve on the home front but, nevertheless, a soldier and quite ready and confident of proving it to anyone having the temerity to "take him on".
You are no doubt interested in how much time is required for training. The period laid down is a total of 40 days annually, comprising
(a) 15 days in camp;
(b) 10 days on outdoor training in the form of one or two days or weekend exercises;
(c) 45 evenings-equivalent to 15 days-at local headquarters.
Some of you may say that this programme will take up most of a man's leisure hours. Of course it will; and it must be done if we are to make an effective fighting force of our Reserve Army. How many leisure hours would any of us have if we lost the war?
In the years before this war, the Canadian Militia was ranked very high among the informed few in other countries who were able to judge the relative merits of fighting forces. This was undoubtedly due to the fact that -the men in it made it an absorbing leisure occupation. The Swiss Army, rated as one of the best in Europe for its numbers, was, like ours, a Militia with only a very small nucleus of professional soldiers. Their leisure hours were few but they made the best possible use of them. This is our duty today.
The 40 day training period is little enough for acquiring a reasonable measure of knowledge and skill, so the maximum use must be made of the time. No man can afford to miss a parade. Officers and instructors have to be qualified. In fact all should aim at high qualification, since in a supreme emergency demanding the mobilization of the whole nation in arms-a "levee en masse"-we would have to depend on every Reserve Army man to be a leader and instructor. Excellent progress is being made in this respect. Some units have attained as high as 100 per cent of officer and N.C.O. establishment qualified and a number of others have over 80 per cent. Under their guidance we have businessmen learning how to handle modern arms, to read and use maps and adapt the woodcraft of outdoor recreation to the grimmer field-craft of war.
In addition there is practical training in tactics on the ground. I wish I could take you with me to see some of the work that is being accomplished in these outdoor tactical exercises and schemes and note the enthusiasm and realism that is being put into them. They are all designed as practical problems of local defence which, as I have remarked, is the keynote of the operational role of the reserve units.
As a typical recent example, I would like to mention a scheme held by Reserve units in London, Ontario, during January. The objects of the exercise were to train troops under winter conditions and to study the defence of the London airport, located a few miles from the city, against attack from air and ground. In spite of heavily drifted roads and a raw east wind, the "battle" was fought for more than six hours by more than 1,000 Reserve Army personnel, with the greatest of enthusiasm. By pooling resources all had ample opportunity to practice the employment of new weapons, artillery, transport and carriers. It was an admirable piece of work and valuable lessons were learned.
This example is typical of many similar practical schemes which the Reserve Army is conducting throughout the year and throughout the country.
In the past the old N.P.A.M. always suffered from scarcity of modern weapons and training equipment. Lack of equipment is always a challenge to ingenuity and miracles of improvisation were performed. The first mechanized training on a large scale, with "jallopies" as tanks and home-made signal equipment, was carried out by militia cavalry units at their own expense. This is only one example. What the N.P.A.M. did, the Reserve Army can and will do, but they now have very much more to work with. The first question asked when the Reserve Army was formed was "Will the Reserve be issued with modern equipment?" The answer was "Yes, it will receive more than it has ever received before, but it is obvious to everyone that the needs of the Active Army, and of our fighting Allies, must come first." That promise has been and is being fulfilled. The Active Army has come first but the equipment situation of the Reserve has steadily improved. Less than a year ago the number of types of weapons, signal equipment and armament available to the Reserve Army was limited to seven classes. Today the Reserve Army has seventeen main classes of fighting equipment available to it in increasing quantities, and much more of it is modern. Units are now in possession of practically all items of modern equipment in use by the Active Army. These include rifles, revolvers, anti-tank rifles, Bren guns, Lewis guns, Reising and Sten sub-machine guns, 3 and 2 inch mortars and grenades. Machine gun units have, in addition to the well-known Vickers, the new Browning medium machine gun. The artillery have an increased number of 75 mm. guns, 18 pounders and 4.5 inch howitzers and the present limited issue of 25 pounders is about to be mate, rially increased. All units are supplied with anti-gas equipment, respirators and gas capes.
These items enable the Reserve units adequately to train their men in the use of weapons but outdoor tactical exercises in the country are also necessary and for this purpose a large number of motor vehicles have been issued. These include motorcycle combinations, jeeps, 8-cwt. and 15-cwt. trucks and universal carriers. In addition, wireless equipment has also been increased. Never in its history has our militia, or Reserve Army, as it is now called, been so well equipped. The promises made have been fulfilled. Though quantity is still lacking, the supply is getting better every month.
I have been deeply gratified by the work of the Toronto garrison. Comparisons are always odious to other communities and I will make none, but I will say that the record of 8,000 enlistments obtained in only two weeks in a recruiting campaign last year is one to be proud of. In this connection I would like to pay special tribute to the untiring and effective work of the Civilian Committee of this city, under the able leadership of Mr. E. Macauley Dillon, K.C. Further, I can hardly say too much in appreciation of the splendid patriotic support accorded the Reserve Army by leading employers in Toronto and Military District No. 2 generally. By facilitating and encouraging the participation of both employees and management, irrespective of rank or station, they have aided immeasurably the task of the Reserve units in their District.
Despite the substantial and continuing contributions to the Reserve Army, the strength of the Reserve is now about 100,000. Still more men are needed. We must beware of false optimism and wishful thinking. This war has seen far too much of that sort of thing. This war is far from being won. It is still only "the end of the beginning". We cannot relax. There is a place for all in the Reserve Army, including those who are working in key war industries. Many who are producing the weapons and materials of war are wondering if they might not be of greater value to the country in wielding rather than by forging those weapons. To such men I say that the Reserve Army offers a splendid opportunity to continue doing both tasks--to serve doubly in this cause of freedom. I would also emphasize that no one should be reluctant to join in the ranks. It is the accepted military principle today, both in Britain and elsewhere, to start from the bottom. There is plenty of room at the top and ample opportunity for the good man to earn promotion. It is a cause for pride to wear the uniform of a private soldier of the Reserve Army. In the Home Guard of England, with which our Reserve Force has so much in common, it is not an infrequent thing to find business leaders serving in the ranks and officered by their own employees. It is also rot uncommon to find distinguished retired regular army officers, up to and including general rank, serving in the ranks of the Home Guard-and proud of it. Surely we can be no less democratic?
I have already expressed appreciation of the splendid support given by many leading Toronto employers and I wish to bespeak their continued persevering support and urge others to follow their patriotic example. We are not seeking to tire men. by absorbing their leisure time. Rather we would present it as a new and useful form of recreation or hobby. That is what it was to most of the officers and men who did such inspired work with the old Militia. So I would urge all employers of labour to recognize the need for a strong Reserve Army and to facilitate and encourage their men to join. The question might be asked "Why rot have compulsory service in the Reserve Army?" Well, I understand there is no political objection to this course if it should be decided as necessary. It would not be a new thing in Canada for, as I pointed out in my brief review of the development of the militia, this force started with the principle of universal service under the French regime and so continued in theory, until 1904. The reason that the recent application has only been theoretical is because better esprit de corps and better results were found in the volunteer units which were formed, at first more or less spontaneously, and later under a directed policy. This aspect of voluntary contribution was always part of the traditional strength of the old Militia. Intimately associated with it for so many years, I can never forget the calibre of the work that those volunteers did, and I am happy to see their successors following in the same tradition. In any event the strength of the Reserve Army is increasing daily, despite the fact that many leave to join the Active Force. This is proof of the success of the voluntary system.
Of course, I realize that, under the present system, there are many men, who have not seen the light and are avoiding service; but, as it is, there is an espirit de cords in the Reserve Army that I am very proud of. I wonder if we would have this if it were composed of men who were compelled to serve. These are only my personal views.
Women are playing a part in this war that we would scarcely have dreamed of not so long ago, though soldiers wives have always had a hard sacrifice to make in all wars. Wives, mothers and sisters can do their part by taking pride in seeing their men-folk in uniform and ready to fight for them. They can willingly make the sacrifices of more lonely evenings and days when parades are to be attended and count it small compared with the sacrifice of the wife whose husband is not just coming home after parade. There is also good work for them to do in the women's auxiliary organizations associated 'with reserve and active units.
The esprit de corps of the Reserve Army throughout Canada is very high. We are aiming to maintain it at this level by providing all necessary incentive. Many of you, I am sure, are very much interested in finance. I do not propose to discuss, in detail, the financial implications of the Reserve Army. Of course it costs a good deal more than was spent on the militia in peace time. However, I would point out that in the Reserve Army we have considerably more strength, man for man, than four divisions. The maintenance and training of this force costs less than half the expense of one active division. This, I suggest, is a good business proposition. We are indeed achieving the principle of Economy of Force.
I would like to mention briefly another aspect of the Reserve Army, namely the Cadet Services, which have now been redesignated as the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, and reorganized to provide a more attractive and better supervised military youth programme.
Under a Directorate at National Defence Headquarters, a small specialist staff is provided in each District to supervise the Cadet units.
The total strength of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets at the end of 1942 was 92,890. A feature of last year's training was the holding of cadet camps throughout the Dominion for the first time in twenty years. A total of 18 camps were held, attended by 9,915 cadets.
In conclusion may I ask you to look back for a moment in order that we may better foresee and predict the course of the future. In 1939 we entered the war with a Permanent Force of 5,000 all ranks and an Active Militia of only 40,000 officers and men. Out of this nucleus we have created a Field Army overseas of two Corps and Ancillary troops-great echelons of reinforcements three active divisions in Canada, and a vast fabric of Training Centres and Coast Defence installations. This is not all. You will find in the Royal Canadian Navy and in the Royal Canadian Air Force many thousands of seasoned veterans from the old Militia.
Yet today, in spite of these achievements, the Reserve Army of Canada has an active training strength of approximately 100,000 officers and men, and behind it a Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps of nearly 100,000 more.
Just as the Home Guard of Britain has earned and won the affection and respect of the nation, by the defence of her beaches, her hills and her village streets, so I believe those deep roots of our Military Tree, the Reserve Army of Canada, are gaining, and will continue to gain in this day of our greatest fight for. freedom, a place of value and of honour in those bright pages of our history that are yet unwritten. (Applause-prolonged.)
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Before calling upon Captain Sanderson of the Reserve Army, the immediate Past President of this Club, to convey the Club's thanks to you, Sir, I thought that you might be interested in seeing the strength of the Reserve Army present. Gentlemen of the Reserve Army, Officers and Men, would you please indicate your presence by standing?
MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Your Honour, Mr. President and Gentlemen: Before I express the thanks of this meeting to MajorGeneral Browne, I trust that I may be allowed to tell those people who area listening to us on the air that when the President asked the members of the Reserve Army to indicate their presence by standing, nine out of ten people present in this large audience arose to their feet, a sight which must have been gratifying to our speaker.
The man who heads the Reserve Army of Canada carries an enormous responsibility. It is well known that the first duty of every commander, whatever his status, is that of security. Without that all else is futile. And it is therefore the presence in Canada of the Reserve Army alone that makes possible that free swing which Canada is able to make abroad at this time.
Then too, he is the individual through whom the past traditions of the Dominion are being transmitted to the future, traditions which reach back to a time when general liability for service was something much more than a mere section in the Militia Act. He forms the bridge which these traditions are crossing as they readjust to a situation never before experienced.
Today a new page has been written in recorded history. The story of many individual regiments is accessible, but we have been lacking that comprehensive and authoritative survey of the Canadian Militia and the Reserve Army which Major-General Browne has so ably given to us today. It seems particularly fitting that it should have been given to the Empire Club of Canada by the man who is making such a contribution, not only to Canada but to the whole Empire, and especially when he possesses so much knowledge, so much experience, so much. expertise, and, if he will permit me to say it in public, so much personal charm. We are conscious of how much Canada is to be congratulated, and I am happy to be the voice through which the thanks of this large audience and of the still larger audience on the air are conveyed to him. (Applause.)