Saturday, January 16, 1915

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Lt.-Gen. Alderson inspected lines.  Assured men that they would soon be eating their dinners in France.  Announcement heartily cheered by the men.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “The number of companies per battalion was another subject of contention and confusion, of postings and repostings, and of general dissatisfaction for eleven weeks.  At Valcartier there were eight:  on 1st November, Contingent Orders in compliance with War Office instructions directed battalions to reorganize on a 4-company basis in accordance with Expeditionary Force establishments.  Five days later the Army Council decided that Overseas Contingents should maintain the existing organization which they understood to be eight companies per battalion.  General Alderson explained that his battalions were already organized into four companies, but the War Office instructed that there should be eight, which was implemented in Contingent Orders on 17th November and carried out.  On 10th December the War Office informed General Alderson that after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief, B.E.F., the Army Council had decided on a 4-company basis, but four days later reversed the decision.  The final changed was effected on 16th January, when General Alderson stated that reorganization on the 4-company basis had commenced, and the War Office approved. But the attempted to take supernumerary regimental officers into the field was unsuccessful:  six officers per company were allowed, from which the transport and signalling officers were selected.”  [2]

The 14th Battalion history tells how “During January the Battalion was again reorganized on a four company basis.  Once previously this reorganization had been effected, but after a short trial, the old eight company formation had been restored.  Under the new system, now definitely adopted, the Battalion consisted of four companies instead of eight, each company being composed of four platoons, under a lieutenant, and each platoon of four sections, under an N.C.O.  Command of the new double companies, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, was given respectively to Major A.C. Shaw, Major P.R. Hanson, Major Gault McCombe, and Major Hercule Barré, who had as their second-in-commands Capt. J.N. Warminton, Capt. R. Steacie, Capt. V.G. Curry, and Capt. E. Ranger.  Major Shaw’s company was formed by combining old Nos. 1 and 5, which had been recruited by the Guards and Victoria Rifles respectively; Major Hanson’s company was made up from old Nos. 2 and 3, which were Guards units; Major McCombe’s company was composed of old Nos. 4 and 6, from the Victoria Rifles; and Major Barré’s company absorbed old Nos. 7 and 8, from the Carabiniers de Mont-Royal.”  [3]

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Jan 16, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   Col. A.F. Duguid, “Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Vol. 1, Part 1, King’s Printer, Ottawa, 1938, pg 141.
[3]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 21.


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