Canadian Innovation: Lacrosse Sticks to throw grenades in 1915

Tuesday, April 13, 1915

Billets, Cassel

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: Nothing – No details recorded. [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: In yesterday’s post the news report mentioned that a supply of lacrosse sticks was being sent to the Canadian troops at the front for recreational use while in reserves or billets. Here we learn of another use for these pieces of sport equipment.

13 April 15_A“(Special Leased Wire) London. April 13 – The Canadian troops at the front have discovered a novel use for lacrosse sticks, namely, throwing hand grenades into the German trenches. They are able in this way to throw them farther, more accurately, and with less risk than otherwise. Over five hundred sticks have been purchased to try out the scheme.”

13 April 15_B

at the Front to Devote One Half Their Pay to Their Families –
Quebec Branch to Discuss Matter To-night

“That it is proposed to reduce the scale of payments of the Canadian Patriotic Fund was the information given to the Telegraph this morning by Hon. C. F. Delage, President of the Quebec Branch, who returned from Ottawa a few days ago after a visit to the headquarters of the fund there.

Hon. Mr. Delage explained that it was proposed to make the soldier at the front devote one-half of his pay to his family and to reduce the Patriotic Fund payment heretofore made to his wife by that amount. There had been complaints made that the soldiers were spending money too freely, and could well afford to give half their pay to their families.

The President of the Quebec Branch immediately enquired if it was intended to put the new regulations into effect this month, as rumour had been circulated that such was the case. It was explained that the offices of the different branches of the fund throughout the country would be asked their opinions on the subject. Inquiry at the office of the Quebec Patriotic Fund this morning brought the information that a meeting would be held to discuss the matter this evening.

The new regulations will only affect the soldiers at the front. Those on home service will continue on the same schedule as before.”[5]

THE CANADIAN PATRIOTIC FUND (1914-1919): “Patriotic funds had existed in Canada for over a hundred years. Mainly private initiatives, they took donations from individuals and businesses to support soldiers and their dependents, during and after wars.

Montreal social activist and manufacturer Sir Herbert Ames followed these precedents in August 1914 in establishing the Canadian Patriotic Fund (CPF). A private organization with the Governor-General as patron and the federal minister of finance as treasurer, the CPF would raise nearly $50 million for soldiers’ families, distributing it through a vast network of local volunteers. The Fund urged Canadians “to fight or pay,” and sought to reassure married men – 20 per cent of all Canadian soldiers during the war – that wives and families would be cared for in their absence.

The CPF performed its principal tasks – fundraising, relief, and the provision of social advice to recipients – with conservative views on entitlement and moral virtue firmly in mind. Fund investigators, including hundreds of women, acted as volunteer social workers, visiting families to determine their level of need or eligibility, and often advising them on how to manage war-related social issues such as budgeting, child care, nutrition, and personal hygiene. Recipients considered undeserving could be dropped without appeal.

The CPF and other private initiatives performed essential work, but the war convinced most Canadians that support for soldiers’ families was a public responsibility. During the Second World War, the CPF would not be reinstituted and soldier welfare would be handled by the federal government. This was an important component in the growth of Canada’s welfare state.” [6]

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, April 13, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]  “Use Lacrosse Sticks to Throw Hand Grenades,” The Quebec Telegraph, Quebec, Quebec, Tuesday, April 13,1915, pg 1,col. 5.
[3]   Ibid
[5]    “May Reduce Scale of Patriotic Fund Payments,” Quebec Telegraph, Quebec, Tuesday, April 13, 1915, pg. 1, col. 6.

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