Air. J. D. TAYLOR (New Westminster):
Mr. Chairman, there is poison gas disseminated in connection with this war from other quarters than the trenches in the German line, and there is sniping equally as disastrous to the cause of the war as that of the 'German 'sharpehooters. I am one of those colonels, commanding officers, of whom the hon. gentlemen who act the part of political snipers in Canada speak so contemptuously in this House and through their press. I think it is well that there is one of those commanding officers present from London to answer face to face some of those who have just as much right to be over there as we have had, but who content themselves with discouraging the public men of Canada who do attempt to set an
example to so many others in Canada wRo might be serving their country, but who decline to do so. One feels almost ashamed to discuss service to one's country from the low standpoint of pay; but as a commanding officer who did not put on his uniform because of any pay attached to it, I would like to say that in the office which I carry on at home, and from which a large proportion of the staff have gone to serve our country, from the manager down to the printer's devil, the average pay of the workmen in that office is the pay that a commanding officer in the Canadian Militia receives for commanding a regiment. I hope that is sufficient illustration to convey to the intelligence of some of those hon. gentlemen to whom the pay of a commanding officer looms so large, that possibly there is some other incentive than to receive the same pay as scores of his own staff that impels him to put on the uniform.
I would like to cite my case as an example of what does prompt a member of Parliament to offer his services at the front. At a certain stage in recruiting in Canada, the then Minister of Militia called for
100,000 additional troops. We have about 100 infantry battalions in Canada, so that meant an overseas battalion, in addition to those already raised, from each of the infantry battaljons in this country. As I had the honour at that time of commanding an infantry regiment in Canada, I felt that it was an appeal to me to raise an overseas battalion, and I promptly volunteered to do it and I did do it.
As the Minister of Finance has said, the personal influence of a commanding officer had a great deal to do at that time in securing recruits. I feel quite sure that the fact that I had the honourable position of a member of the House of Commons gave me a great leverage in going about through my district and asking the young men of Westminster district-not to go to the front, but to come to the front with me. I may say to the hon. gentleman who says that the commanding officers might go as privates that I will forestall his objection by telling him that when I was of the age at which men do go as privates, I went to the front as a private in the service of my country. I am not of that age now and I could not go as a private nor as a lieutenant. If I volunteered I would not be accepted. But I did raise a very fine battalion in my district because of my personal appeals, and, if I do say it, because of what little prestige I have in that district.
'Under ordinary circu: ^stances I and my battalion might very w jll have gone to the front as a unit. It was our desire. Many a political enemy at home-because we have a few snipers there, although in the West they do not flourish-has caused it to be asked of me on the platform or elsewhere: "Are you going to the front yourself"?-the imputation being that I was doing a grandstand play. I answered them honestly and truthfully that it was my desire and my intention to go to the front. My battalion arrived in England with thirteen others in a convoy, a total of 14,000 troops, immediately after the terrible experience on the Somme. The Canadian Headquarters in London were confronted then with a demand for the immediate services of about 19,000 men to replace the casualties which had just occurred, and it was our fortune when we arrived in England, to be selected as some of those reinforcements which were immediately sent. I think all the battalions in that convoy except two were drafted for that purpose. My battalion sent 400 men to the trenches within two weeks of our arrival in England, 100 a week later, and since then they have been going continuously. Now then, which is the more glorious, which is the more to be commended in a commanding officer, that, being met with a demand there to send men into -the fighting line and having recruited men for the fighting line, he should say: "I have brought these men to fight and they are at your service"; or that he should come to his political headquarters, if he has any political standing, and -say: "Do not send these men to fight, but leave them with me for my honour and glory so that I may go forward as a commanding officer"? What would the hon. gentlemen have isaid 'if it bad. tunned out that I was asked to send 500 men immediately to the trenches and I said: "Do not do that; what position do you put me in; if you send those, I cannot go?" And why could I not go? Because the regiment most calling for men at that time was one from my very own district, the 47th Westminster Battalion straight from the Somme, 400 shy, including in the ranks of officers twelve out of my own home regiment, including hundreds of men the every day aisisociates of those whom I had brought over. What more natural than that my 400 should go to their own neighbours from Westminster, to their own officers of their old regiment? And why could not the Colonel go? Because -greatly to the disappointment, seemingly, of these gentlemen opposite-Colonel Wins-
by, of the 47th, had not been shot; Major Coote second in command, of the 47th, and Major in my regiment at home, had not been shot. They remained in command. Therefore, Colonel Taylor and Major Cunningham of the recently-arrived regiment were not able to go to the front. What would the hon. gentleman have? Am I to be condemned by him and those like him because I took a battalion to England? Am I to be condemned because, having sent my men into the firing line, I come back and take up my duties as a member of this House?
I will show to some of these gentlemen what their criticism of unemployed officers means in some cases. An instance arose in England in June of 1915. A number of senior officers became unpleasantly conscious of their great numbers in England. There were eighty majors, for instance, who said: "Wc'dislike remaining here; we came over to go to the front; let us go forward as supernumerary lieutenants". And they went as supernumerary lieutenants. Now, the supernumerary lieutenant has almost less than no duties. He is the understudy of the lieutenant in charge of a platoon. He is not quite so useful as a sergeant in charge of any section, because the sergeant has been trained with the section from the beginning and is more accustomed to it than the supernumerary lieutenant can be. Not afraid of German bullets, and perhaps too conscious of the criticism such as is offered in this House to-night, these majors said: "Let us go over the parapet with the men". They went. Only twenty came back. Are we to cheer in this House because in that one stroke we wiped out sixty superfluous majors?
The hon. gentleman asks why these men are not sent home at once. The answer is so plain that I wonder that anyone should ask the question with a desire of obtaining knowledge. If asked with the idea that, being unanswered, it will make a point to the discredit of the soldiers of Canada, the question seems more intelligible. I would like to hear in upon the consciousness of some of these hon. gentlemen the fact that a senior military officer is not made in five minutes. And, as it takes a long time to make him, so it should take a correspondingly long time to arrive at the conclusion that he should be discarded and sent home. As the training proceeds in Canada, there are technical courses of all kinds to qualify the officers for the duties they are to exercise at the front. When we are asked
to send an officer to a school at Quebec, to a school at Ottawa, or Winnipeg, or Victoria, as I was asked from time to time to send mine, the accompanying note nearly always is: Send a senior officer, if possible. And properly so; because a senior officer should be qualified to lead in every branch of instruction. In the case of my battalion, nearly every senior officer bad 'been the subject of a special course of training at some of these schools, to the exclusion of the junior officers, because the number was limited.
Topic: WAR LOAN-$500,000,000.