- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 15 Dec 1904, p. 61-67
- Hunter, Captain A.T., Speaker
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- Item Type
- The differences between Militia, and Militarism. A few illustrations of Militarism, which is better than defining it. The virus of Militarism in Canada. The two main requisites to prepare any nation for defence: time and money. Dollars spent in Canada on useless military things as dollars stolen from the defence of Canada. Every hour spent in useless movements as a theft from the defence of Canada. In both cases, the thief as the Militarist. How what the Militarist steals neither benefits him nor can be made good by any mortal man or Government; an illustration. Changes in our drill books since the present Administration came into power. How continual changing, ever-changing uniformity costs us pretty dear. Effects of changes of drill. The need in Canada for a little red book that will stand for the next 50 years, with simple formations, no unnecessary movements, and as little ceremonial as possible.
- Date of Original
- 15 Dec 1904
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- Full Text
- CONDENSED MILITARISM IN CANADA.
Address by Captain A. T. Hunter, B.A., B.C.L., on Thursday, December 15th, 1904.
Mr. Chairman and Members o f the Empire Club,-
I take it that all true Canadians mean the same thing; whether they be English or French or plain, peace-loving Irish, and whether or not they love or resent being called Imperialists; and that this same thing which we all mean is that Canada shall be able to defend herself. But defence, that is to say Militia, is one thing, and Militarism is quite a different thing. Just as chivalry was one thing and quixotism was quite a different thing. I shall not define Militarism, but I shall give you a few illustrations of it which is better than defining it. For instance, the genius of an inventor produces a rifle with a barrel so good that its bullet will carry two miles and will go with surprising directness for fifteen hundred yards. A Militarist takes this rifle, equips it with sights that can hit a six-foot target at Goo yards, and he serves it out to other Militarists who are carefully instructed in a series of complementary flourishes called the Manual and who are also taught a so-called firing exercise by men who have excellent voices but who can't shoot.
If a Militarist were asked to build a brick wall he would arrive on the scene with a corps of bricklayers who would march as one man, who would carry the trowel every man in the right hand with elbows close to the side, every trowel sloped at the same angle; the only thing they wouldn't have been taught would be to lay bricks. Give a Militarist a wide-rimmed hat-I am coming to an illustration you may see not far sometimes from the streets of Toronto-give him a wide-rimmed hat to protect his face from the weather and the sun and he will cock up one side of it, rakishly fastening it with a cockade, so as to let the sun in on his face when he shoots. If you see a poor fool in uniform doing some particularly silly thing in a solemn and painstaking way, and you ask him why, he will tell you, " that is regulation," or else " that is regimental," or that " they do it thus in the Rifles," or some other thing that is about as useful for you as if he gave you the pass-word into the deaf and dumb lodge. Militarism has been called a burden in Europe. If Militarism is a burden to European countries it is a crime in Canada. For this reason that in Canada the virus of Militarism has ten-fold strength. Consider!
To prepare any nation for defence there are two main requisites-time and money. Money to buy soldiers food and equipment and to pay their wages. Time to train them for defence. Now, the amount of money available in Canada, whether we include the money that the Government will spend or if we add to it the money that private individuals, officers or otherwise, will spend, is a very limited fund. Therefore every dollar spent in Canada on useless military things is a dollar stolen from the defence of Canada. And of time: we have for the training of the greater portion of the Canadian Militia a nominal twelve days per annum, or its equivalent in evening drills for City Corps. Therefore every hour spent in useless movements is a theft from the defence of Canada. And in both cases the thief is the Militarist, and what he steals neither benefits him nor can be made good by any mortal man or Government. Let me give you an illustration. After all the experience of the Boer War the regulation equipment of a Canadian Infantry officer is a sword! We laugh at the Chinese for training their men in archery, but if you had watched this year, or last year, any Company of the Rural Militia of Canada marching down your streets to take the Niagara boat you would have seen a Captain and perhaps two Lieutenants armed with swords marshalling their host of six or eight non-coms and one or two privates.
Now in the Imperial Army this sword business does very little harm. The English officer has an abundance of loose time on his hands. He might as well spend some of that loose time in learning sword tricks as in playing polo or baccarat or some other game of skill. To the German officer a sword is even a convenience for running civilians through. But to an officer in the Canadian Militia this $16 piece of stage cutlery is an unqualified nuisance. I tell you it takes quite a few hours of training before the Canadian officer knows properly the ways of drawing, carrying, sloping, saluting with, and returning, that very awkward and useless implement, a sword. He never gets to the distance of learning how to fence with it. Those same hours of training would enable a competent lecturer, one who had taken part in some recent war, to teach those officers how the men were formed up and proceeded on the day of such and such a recent battle; how they posted an outpost on some day in South Africa and it had a useful result; how they occupied a position on some day when the enemy were beaten back; and what went wrong on some day when the enemy were not beaten back. In fine, it would enable the lecturer to teach those officers a sort of formation that might save the lives of the boys who had been entrusted to their care. Every hour we spend on this sort of business, owing to the limited number of hours that any Canadian Militia officer, outside of the Permanent Corps, has to spend, is just as dangerous a form of embezzlement as if we allowed the stealing of ammunition from the magazines. You will see then what I mean by condensed militarism, and that is that owing to our military poverty of time and money any foolish or absurd custom that we adhere to strikes our defence forces with concentrated force.
I might use another illustration if I thought it would do any good. I might refer to our use or fad, rather, of uniforms. I will only go this far today, however, and that is to say that on the outbreak of a war it would be better for Canada not to try to put her troops into uniform, but to send them into the fields in their workaday clothes. Nearly all the money that is spent in Canada on uniforms appears to be spent with the view of making an enemy feel like an infanticide for shooting so easy a mark. After the outbreak of a war it would take at least a month to put service uniforms on 100,000 Canadian Militia, and by that time the ballots would have been counted. But there is another matter that is still more harmful, and that is our perpetual changes in drill. The general public will have noted without much perturbation that the Department of Militia have called in the Dundonald Drill Books and reverted to the use of the text-books in use in His Majesty's Army. This move, while it has not perceptibly affected the price of wheat, has a certain significance. It marks a return to the policy pursued by all Administrations of faithfully heeling in the footsteps of the English War Office and adopting without consideration every change of fashion in English Military life. I cannot speak for the olden times. I am not personally familiar with the Militia in those ancient days of ten years ago, but since the present Administration has come into power there have been the following changes in our drill books
No. 1. We discarded the old books and we adopted the Infantry Drill, 1896. Signed Wolseley.
No. 2. We discarded No. 1 and we adopted the Infantry Training, Provisional, 1902. Signed Roberts, F.M.
No. 3. We discarded No. 2 and we adopted the Infantry Training, Canada, 1904. Signed Dundonald, M.G.
No. 4. We discarded No. 3 and returned to No. 2.
Now there is no intrinsic reason why anyone other than a Canadian Militiaman should know the Canadian Infantry drill. It is very unlikely that we shall 'have appointed Imperial officers with Lieutenant-Colonelcies of subordinate command in Canadian Infantry Regiments. The temper of our Military people is alien to that sort of thing. It is true that in case of active service Imperial officers may take the command of Brigades or Divisions or even Armies of Canadian troops, but then, there are no formal words of command for Brigades or Divisional movements except in ceremonial. So 'you see there is no advantage in our being so extremely deferential to the English in matters of drill.
Mr. Castell Hopkins: Is there any disadvantage?
Mr. Hunter: I will show you that this continual changing, this ever-changing uniformity, costs us pretty dear. Now, we are careful not to preserve uniformity in some other respects. For instance, the Canadian Government does not see any intrinsic reason why it should adopt the English Army rifle. On the contrary it has adopted the Ross rifle which, while using the same ammunition as the English Army rifle, appears to be a superior weapon. The adoption of that rifle, the Ross rifle, will necessitate some changes in that part of the drill known as the Rifle Manual and Firing Exercises. That part of the drill will have to be revised on a Canadian basis-a sort of Ross Bible.
The rest of the drill can be divided, like ancient Gaul, into three parts. First, the Movements, Formations and Words of Command necessary to bring a body of men to the edge of the combat. Second, Tactics of Combat. Third, the Ceremonial. Now the public has had its ears dinned with the statement that our drill must be revised to meet the experience of recent engagements and to keep up with the improvement in military weapons. That is true only of Part a, the Tactics of Combat. The Tactics of Combat must be revised year by year to keep pace with the increasing range, accuracy and rapidity of rifles and artillery, and the increasing skill in the use of those weapons. The other parts do not need to be changed. The other parts, the ceremonial and the non-tactical drill, occupy by far the greater portion of the time that is taken up in instruction and in learning. Teaching men, forming them into squads, and teaching them the salutings, the turnings, the marching straight, or oblique, or to a flank; forming fours, sections, companies, and then marching as a battalion; and after a certain degree of steadiness has been obtained showing off their proficiency in a march-past and a review-these things occupy much the greater portion' of the time that is taken up in the evening drills of our City regiments and in the annual training of our Rural battalions.
One great beauty about this non-tactical drill is that it is essentially military. The actual fighting in the field can be performed as well, sometimes better, by men who have had no such training. The performance of this non-tactical drill when under the fire of modern rifles or artillery is no longer even thinkable, although General Hart is said to have practiced a little of it at the Battle of Colenso. Another great beauty about this non-tactical drill is that while our Militarists revise the drillbook every five or six years so as to teach the movements differently, and under different words of command, still the movements all amount to the same as they did in the time of Julius Caesar or Agamemnon. There is every reason to believe that Clearchus, when he marched his ten thousand Greeks in columns of two to embrace the Persians with all their numbers, may have followed even the detail in the Infantry Drill of 1896, or 1902, or else that in the Dundonald Drill of 1904. The chief difference would be in the clothes worn and in the words of command.
Mr. Castell Hopkins asked me whether there was any inconvenience arising. Let me tell you the effects of these changes of drill. They are simply to nullify the results of all the training that the 'country has paid for in previous times. Let me illustrate. When you march a body of troops along the average Canadian road, particularly the roads in Ontario with which we are familiar, it generally amounts to the same thing. We march them in columns of fours. Now there is no intrinsic reason why the able-bodied men of the Red River Expedition of '7o and the men of '85 and the men of the South African Contingents, and every mother's son of a Canadian that has had any drill anywhere since Confederation, should not be able to fall in, in the ranks, and march steadily in fours up to the, place where the actual tactics of combat begin. But if you try to do it under the present system you would produce the most horrible confusion. Why? Because every few years they have revised the drill books, and these veterans, each batch of them, according to the date when he was drilled, would be waiting for certain executive words that never came. (Laughter.)
Take the boys that we drilled as recruits last June in Camp. I tell you that their training there makes them of less use to us, if we are to bring them out today under the present Drill-book as recently re-adopted, than if we had never trained them at all. The recruit of last June, if he comes out next June to get his share of Infantry training, provisional 1902, will earn a few cents more per diem than he did last June, and he will do these things to earn it: Twelve nominal days of training; one day spent coming, one day spent returning; one day is Sunday, when his instruction is spiritual. Leaving nine days for actual learning, unless we deduct reviews and inspections and rainy days. During these nine days of wonder our recruits will be required to do three things: First, to forget-a common requirement nowadays-to forget Dundonald's drill, both movements and words of command. Second, to learn the formations, movements and words of command in squad, company and battalion drill according to the Infantry Training of 1902. That is not all. Third, to lay all that aside and to learn entirely different formations for the purpose of the ceremonial according to the Infantry Training of 1896. These nine days of wonder!
And he will do all this, eat his meals, play football and lacrosse after drill hours, sing himself to sleep in his tent and be obedient and cheerful under it all. With sane direction and a little genuine honest rifle shooting he could beat the world. But, gentlemen, it is all wasted and frittered away at the present time without purpose and without result just because of our apish reverence for military customs and things that belong to a standing army and don't fit very well at that. What we need in Canada is a little red book that will stand for the next fifty years, with simple formations, no unnecessary movements, and as little ceremonial as possible. There are dozens of officers in Canada competent to write such a book. I would like to see the Government hire, say, three of them to write it, and once written let us stick to it as a hundred cents stick to the Canadian dollar. I thank you, gentlemen.