Canadians — especially the civilian soldiers, those who had volunteered for the duration, rather than the career soldiers — rather prided themselves on a certain rough-and-ready attitude to the niceties of drill.
There was, I am afraid, a freedom about our “discipline ” that left the British Tommy aghast. …(1)
We on occasion drilled with, or were pitted against, the British drafts. They were the pink of propriety, silent and alert, while we, the “mob,” drove our hard-bitten instructors to dumb madness by our dislike of regimentalism. But we could hold our own with anybody, Imperial pick, over the assault course, in gas-masks or without…. Withal, we were clean where cleanness matters, even if we refused for a week at a time to ” spit and polish,” yet for a formal parade could turn out and go through the stunts as if we had been doing the movements for years instead of weeks.
In a word, we were ” there with the goods” when the goods were wanted, and would no more let our officers down on the parade ground, when it was really important, than in the field.
But we certainly were a riot sometimes. (2)
(1) Ralf Frederic Lardy Sheldon-Williams. The Canadian Front in France and Flanders. London: 1920. 7
(2) Sheldon-Williams. 9
The image is taken from a cartoon by Arthur Wallis Mills, published in Punch. November 4, 1914. Copyright Punch.