THE ORGANIZATION OF THE MILITARY FORCES OF THE EMPIRE
An Address by MAJOR L. F. PHILIPS, King's Royal Rifles, General Staff Officer, Second Division, before the Empire Club of Canada, November 16, 1911.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,-
I want to start by saying how very greatly I feel honoured by having been asked to address the Empire Club today. As our time is short, I will not make any further preliminary remarks but go straight to the subject of my lecture.
The subject I have chosen is the Organization of the Military Forces of the Empire. I start by considering first for what objects the military forces of the Empire are organized, and what is intended to be carried out; then I will go on to consider what means we have at our disposal for the carrying out of these objects; and finally I will go shortly into the organization of the different forces that make tip the military forces of the Empire.
The objects to which I refer are three-fold. The first, is the defence of the United Kingdom; the second is the provision for an expeditionary force in case of need for service over-seas; and the third is the garrisoning of those countries, fortresses, and posts throughout the, Empire that, for any reason, require a British garrison.
As regards the means at our disposal, we have in, England, or I should say in the United Kingdom, a Regular Army, and we have a Special Reserve which is the remains of the old militia which is retired into a reserve through Mr. Haldane's scheme of I9o8. We have also a large Territorial Force in Canada and we have, as you know, a Permanent Force and Active Militia, backed up, in case of emergency, by a reserve which is not organized at present but which comprises the whole of the able-bodied male population of Canada who are British subjects between the ages of 18 and 6o years of age.
In Australia the Government have started this year a system of universal training for all the forces-the Permanent Force and the Defence Force, which I understand will in future be called the National Force. Every youth between 14 and 17 years of age has to register' his name and do a certain amount of training as a Cadet. On attaining 18 years he becomes a member of the National Force unless he elects to join the Permanent Force, or lives so far from any military centre that training would be impossible. The period of service is eight years, and they do sixteen days' training in the year including about a week in camp.
In New Zealand, on the other hand, although in agog an Act was passed by which every man between 17 and 55 years of age is liable for service, the Government have lately decided to create a maximum force of 30,000 men, and to secure universal training. The forces of New Zealand are divided into Permanent Force, Territorial Force, and the Militia.
In South Africa the Union Government do not appear to have definitely settled on any system of defence, but I see in the papers that they intend to, next year. At present there are the Permanent Force, some Militia, and a large Force of Volunteers which will no doubt become a Territorial Force within a very short time.
Thus we see that in England and Canada the Forces all rest on a purely voluntary basis. In Australia the system of universal training has already been started. In New' Zealand, although a provision has been made for a system of universal training, it will not be carried into effect so long as the voluntary system produces satisfactory results; and, so also in South Africa, no arrangements have yet been decided upon.
Then, there are forces of Permanent Troops, Militia, Volunteers, and Police in every possession all over the world, besides the British Garrisons to which I have already referred.
I will now consider the organization of the Home Army, and also the Forces in the principal Dominions and countries in the Empire. The general system of organization, which applies pretty well to every country in the Empire, is to have a small Permanent Force-in some cases only comparatively small-and a large Force for Defence of the Country or Dominion itself.
Let us start with the Army in Great Britain, upon which the organization of most of the other Forces in the Empire have been modelled and upon which no doubt the organization of all Forces will eventually be modelled. England is peculiarly situated in having to find garrisons for places such as India, South Africa, Malta, Gibraltar, Egypt, and various other places. But it has been relieved of the responsibility for the defence of the two fortresses in Canada by the Canadian Government since 1905. I refer of course to Halifax and Esquimault. England has therefore to provide troops for these garrisons as well as for home defence and for any expeditions which she may be called upon to undertake. As this has led to rather a complicated system I have had a diagram drawn up and distributed which I hope will help to make it a little bit clearer. (See diagram) The Government of the Army, as of all Forces in the Empire, is vested in the Crown. The command and administration is placed in the hands of the Army Council which is composed much in the same way as the Militia Council in Canada. There are seven members, four of whom are military and three civil. The Secretary of State for War takes the place of the Minister of Militia and Defence in Canada. The first military member is the Chief of the General Staff. He is responsible for all organization for war, and training, and instruction. In fact, he is responsible for all preparation for war. The second military member is the Adjutant General. He is charged with peace organization, discipline, interior economy, and generally with all administrative arrangements connected with the Army in the United Kingdom.
The third military member is the Quartermaster General. He is responsible for provisions, for transport, clothing, supplies, and all military stores. The fourth military member is the Master General of Ordnance who deals with all questions of armament and fortification, and the provision of guns, rifles, ammunition, military buildings, and all technical questions connected with the artillery and Engineers. The civil member is charged with the administration of territorial affairs, with the purchase of land, and construction of new barracks and other buildings that may be necessary. The financial member, as the name implies, deals with all questions connected with finance.
For the purpose of decentralization, the Army in the United Kingdom is divided into Commands, each under the General Officer, the Commander-in-chief. In thinking of these commands, you must not think of them as representing a fixed number of, units. They are really the area of country in which are quartered, for the purpose of training and administration, a varying number of regular troops, special reserve, and territorial units. I think this is the case in almost every Dominion and British Possession. When we speak of a Command or Division, we usually refer to an area rather than to a fixed body of men. There are always in the United Kingdom, Officer Training Corps and Cadet Corps. These are independent of the Commands and are administered by the Department of the War Office. You may probably have heard that there is a scheme for starting Officers' Training Corps in Canada and this, I am ' sure, will meet with your hearty support. There are seven of these commands: The Aldershot, Eastern, Irish, Northern, Scottish, Southern, and Western. Then there are also three Districts, the London District, and the other two in the Channel Islands which are on much the same footing as the Commands. The Commands are further sub-divided into Districts of which there are twelve altogether. These must not be- confused with the three Districts I have already mentioned, because the latter are under the, Commands, and the ones I have last mentioned are directly under the War Office.
We now come to the troops themselves. The Army in .Great Britain is divided into two main divisions, Field Troops and Defence Troops; the former are composed of all branches of the service and include Regular, Special, Reserve, and Territorial Troops; the latter consist almost entirely of Regular and Territorial, Garrison and Artillery and Fortress Engineers. Of the Field Troops there are six Regular Divisions and four Cavalry Brigades of which I will shortly give you the organization if I have time. There are also fourteen Territorial Mounted Brigades, fourteen Territorial Divisions. Their duty is to take the place of the Expeditionary Force, if it should be ordered abroad, and to protect the country from invasion either with or without the assistance of the Regular Troops. As I said before, this Force is raised on a purely voluntary basis and has made great strides in efficiency since its formation in 1908. It remains to be seen whether its present membership can be kept up under the voluntary system. Besides the Field Army and Corps Defence Troops, there are a certain number of unallotted regular units as well as Depots for Special Reserve Battalions. These are all under the command of the Officers commanding the Districts.
The erection of Depots brings me to the system ()n which Garrisons are found for the stations abroad. An arrangement is made by which the Regiments are linked together in pairs so that one makes a sort of nursery for the other abroad. That is to say the Regiment ate home collects recruits, trains them and sends' them out in draughts to the Regiment abroad. That has done away with the necessity for Cavalry Depots. Now in the Infantry, on the other hand, the Depot System has been retained with few exceptions; each Infantry Regiment consists of two Battalions which do a tour of foreign service in training for from ten to fifteen years. The Depot receives most of the recruits, and after a certain amount of training, sends them to the Home Battalions, whence they are drafted into the Battalion, which happens to be abroad, to replace casualties, time expired men, and so on, but this is now perhaps the least important part of the work carried out at the Depot. Under the new system, except during the period of annual training, the Depot is the headquarters of the Reserve Battalion or rather the Special Reserve Battalion, that is, the old Militia. They have now been made into a third Battalion for each regiment. At the Depot the recruits are enlisted and receive six months continuous training, after which they return to civil life, except for a month or so which they spend in Camp every year. The Special Reserves are liable for service abroad in time of war, and they would be used to replace casualties in the other Battalions of the regiment to which they belong.
I think I have time to give you very shortly the details of the division which is the basis of our Field Army Organization. It is the largest organized unit in the Imperial Army, but in time of war two or more Divisions may be grouped together as an army under one Commander. A Division consists of three Infantry 'Brigades, each of four Battalions, with, of course, a Brigade Headquarters. Then the rest of the troops in the Division are termed Divisional Troops. We have, as mounted men, two Companies of Mounted Infantry. They do not belong to a regiment as such, but they are formed from sections from each Battalion going on service-sections that have already been trained in peace time as mounted infantry men. When they join headquarters, they are formed into Battalions of four companies each.
After the Mounted Infantry we come to the Artillery. There are three Brigades of Field Artillery with eighteen pounder guns; each of these brigades consists of three batteries; and then besides the Field Artillery we have one Howitzer Brigade which is armed with a: five inch Howitzer. They are also called Field Artillery. They are, of course, rather different to the Eighteen Pounder Brigade. Then we have one Heavy Battery armed with sixty pounders, and it has an Ammunition Column. I should have said that in each Artillery Brigade, like the Heavy Battery, there is, an Ammunition 'Column which is an integral part of the Brigade. That completes the Artillery. Then we have, of the Engineers, two Field Companies of Engineers and one Telegraph Company. Those comprise the fighting troops. We have, besides, one Divisional Transport and Supply Column and one Divisional Transport and Supply Part. They are responsible for the supply of the troops and of transport in all forms. Besides, we have three Field Ambulances, that is medical units. You will see the Division is easily separable into three parts, with a proportion of troops for each branch of the service. Of course the mounted infantry and Engineers would have to be allotted according to circumstances. The Transport and Supply Column can be divided up into three also, as it consists of the Headquarters Company and three other Companies. The Divisional Transport and Supply Part is organized in three sections, two of which are mechanical and one horse with supplies, details, and field bakery detachment. That completes what is sometimes called the Infantry Division. Now we have also a Cavalry Division which consists of the four Cavalry Brigades and four Divisional Troops, two Horse Artillery Brigades armed with 13 pounders, four Field Troops of Engineers, one Wireless Telegraph Company, a Cavalry Division or Transport, and Supply Column of four Cavalry Field Ambulances.
We will now turn to the organization of the Overseas Forces. By far the largest force outside of the United Kingdom, is the Army in India. The GovernorGeneral-in-Council is the supreme executive authority in Military Affairs, the Commander-in-chief being responsible to him for everything to do with the Army. The Commander-in-chief, is assisted by a staff which is divided into six departments, that of Chief of the Staff, Adjutant General,, Quartermaster General, Ordinance, Military Works, and Medical Department. It is something like the Army Council. The Army is organized into two main armies, Northern and Southern; each is organized, for the purpose of training and administration, into five divisions with a varying number of Cavalry and' Infantry Brigades in each. Some are British, and some native and, I believe, some mixed. Besides 'the British and native regular troops, there are the Volunteers Reserve for the native army, and the imperial Service Troops which are raised and maintained by the Independent States and are not actually part of the British Army, although they would always co-operate with the British Army in any expeditions in India. There are also the Frontier Militia and the Indian Military Police.
The Canadian forces, as you know, are commanded by the Governor-General as Commander-in-chief, but the administration is in the hands of the Minister of Militia and Defence, assisted by the Militia Council whose duties are practically, the same as those of the Army Council in the United Kingdom. The permanent force consists of the units of all branches of the service, and besides garrisoning the fortresses, one of their principal duties is the instruction of the active militia. The active militia has now been organized into Divisions and Cavalry Brigades. There are six divisional associates and three independent districts which, like the Commands and Districts in the United Kingdom, have a varying number of troops according to the population of the area.
In Australia, the affairs are administered by the Military Board under the Minister of Defence. The Country is divided into six Military Districts corresponding with the six states of the Commonwealth. The permanent force consists of an administrative and instructionary staff and a few other troops. The Militia is organganized into field and garrison forces. The Field Force consists of five brigades of Light Horse, two Infantry Brigades, and four--Mixed Brigades. That is to say, they consist of mounted men, infantry, and a proportion of administrative and departmental units. The Garrison Force is for the various defended parts in each state and comprises all parts of the service. The Reserve consists of members of the Rifle Clubs who have taken the oath of allegiance, and men who have already served in the Defence Force.
The forces in New Zealand are under the control of a Council consisting of 'the Minister of Defence, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Finance Member. The permanent force consists of Artillery and Engineers only. The Territorial Force consists of the units of all branches of the Service; but the highest organization at ' present is that of a regiment in case of Cavalry and Infantry, and a brigade in the case of Artillery. There are, however, four Military Districts each of which comprises a mixed brigade Command. I have no doubt the troops will soon be organized into brigades like those in Australia. The Militia are not organized, but all the male inhabitants between 17 and 55 are liable to serve. Nothing definite has been settled as to the affairs of the Union of South Africa, but each province maintains its own Defence Force at present. As I said before, this next year they probably will bring in a new system.
I am afraid I have not time to deal in detail with the forces at the remaining British posts, but I can safely say, in conclusion, that cooperation between the Mother country and the great self-governing dominions in military affairs appears to be working most satisfactorily.