Commandant Series

V Commandant RMC: 1901 – 1905

(Researched by E3161 Victoria Edwards)

Major General Raymond Northland Revell Reade C.B., C.M.G. was the 5th Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada from 1901-5. Born in 1861, he was the grandson of Thomas Knox, the second Earl of Ranfurly. The Earl of Ranfurly, of Dungannon in the County of Tyrone, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. He stood fourth place in his staff college examination. He held important staff and administrative appointments. He served in Afghanistan and he saw fighting in West Africa. He had staff appointments in Egypt and Aldershot. He served as DAAG (intelligence) in the South African War. Major Reade served as Colonel in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry 19 Jan 1921. He married Rose Frances Spencer, daughter of Colonel Almeric George Spencer and Alice Isabel Fraser, on 9 June 1894. Colonel Reade served as Commandant of RMC from 1901-5. His criticism of poor RMC examination marks in French, physics and chemistry in 1901 and surveying and physics 1904 led to reforms: smaller classes for French, entrance tests in physics and chemistry, and separate instructors for physics and surveying. He also built up the RMC library and extended library priviledges to Permanent Force Officers in the Kingston area. A twenty-five bed hospit a l was constructed adjacent to the education block. A large gymnasium was constructed south of the Stone Frigate. He secured quarters for the staff-adjutant and his family in what was later called Panet House, after the first resident. He built an extension to the rear of the Stone Frigate for bathroom facilities. He served in Malta, Scotland and the Straits Settlements. Poor health prevented his service in World War I. He was the British representative on the Inter-Allied Military Mission to Greece, 1918. He was invested as a Companion, Order of the Bath (C.B.). He was invested as a Companion, Order of St. Michael and St. George (C.M.G.). He died on 18 October 1943.

Sources:

Richard Preston Canada’s RMC: A History of the Royal Military College.

Charles Mosley, editor, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th edition, 2 volumes (Crans, Switzerland: Burke’s Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 1999), volume 1, page 573.

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VI Commandant RMC: 1905 – 1909

(Researched by E3161 Victoria Edwards)

45 Colonel Edward Thornton Taylor was born in 1850. He graduated from McGill in 1878 and went on to RMC, where he introduced hockey to Kingston. He was the first Commandant who was a graduate of the Royal Military Colllege. Taylor won the sword of honour in 1882 and was batallion sargeant-major. He was the first ZRMC cadet to attend the staff college course at Camberly (1895). He joined the 2nd Battalion of the Cheshinre regiment. He served with his regiment and on the staff in India and Burma, often in instructional positions. He was fond of climbina and shooting tigers. He was an energetic man of great physical endurance who possessed an almost boyish enthusiasm. Lieutenant Colonel Taylor served as the sixth Commandant at RMC (1905-9). At the time, about 80 cadets were in training. Cadets had to pass a competitive examination on entering, with half-yearly examinations afterwards to obtain diplomas. Although the college was organized on a strictly military basis, a thoroughly practical and complete course of study in civil engineering, civil and hydro-graphic surveying, physics, chemistry, French and English was provided. The practice of gymnastic drills and outdoor exercises of all kinds ensured good health and fine physical condition. Five commissions in the imperial army were awarded yearly to the cadets who stand highest. The length of the course was three years, in three terms of nine and a half months’ residence each. The total cost of the course, including board, uniform, instructional material and all extras, was from $750 to $1,000. As Commandant, he indicated the difficulty involved if RMC graduates who did not take a commission in the British army or Canadian Permanent Active Force were required to serve for a stated time in the Non-Permanent Active Force. This compulsory military service would be difficult since graduates did not always live near militia units. He recommended that g r aduates be posted to a unit of their choice rather than simply be placed on the reserve of officers. In 1906, the practice began at the RMC club annual dinner of calling the roll by having each member rise in place in turn and announce their college number and name in order of seniority. In 1907, the loving cup was circulated for the first time around the table at the RMC club annual dinner. Although Taylor retired in 1916, he commanded the labour corps in France in 1917.

Published in “The New Student’s Reference Work: Volume 3” by Chandler B. Beach, Frank Morton McMurry and others:

During the session of the Canadian Parliament of 1874 the minister of militia, with the sanction of Premier Alexander . Mackenzie, introduced a bill providing for the establishment of a military college resembling those at Sandhurst (England) and West Point (United States). Instruction in subjects bearing on military matters was to be imparted by officers from the imperial army, and the teaching staff was to include instructors in French, engineering and other subjects. From this act of Parliament has grown Canada’s Royal Military College. Its buildings are picturesquely situated on the lake-shore east of Kingston (Ontario) on the same point of land as Fort Frederick. Forts Frederick and Henry give a military atmosphere to the neighborhood and serve as an object-lesson to the cadets. The college opened in 1876 with a class of 18. The first commandant was Lieutenant-General E. O. Hewett. He remained in charge until 1886, and upon resigning was thanke d by the government for his successful administration. Since its opening 180 cadets have been granted commissions in the imperial army, as well as 70 others in the Canadian permanent force. About 80 cadets are in training. Cadets must pass a competitive examination on entering, with half-yearly examinations afterwards to obtain diplomas. Although the college is organized on a strictly military basis, a thoroughly practical and complete course of study in civil engineering, civil and hydro-graphic surveying, physics, chemistry, French and English is provided. Constant practice of gymnastic drills and outdoor exercises of all kinds ensure good health and fine physical condition. Five commissions in the imperial army are awarded yearly to the cadets who stand highest. The length of the course is three years, in three terms of nine and a half months’ residence each. The total cost of the course, including board, uniform, instructional material and all extras, is from $750 to $1, 0 00. The present commandant is Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Thornton Taylor, who is a graduate of the college. Perhaps the most distinguished graduate is Lieutenant-Colonel E. P. C. Girouard, K. C. M., who stands easily first in the annals of railway work in time of war.

Sources:

Richard Preston Canada’s RMC: A History of the Royal Military College.

http://chestofbooks.com/reference/The-New-Student-s-Reference-Work-Vol3/pp0542.html

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XII Commandant RMC: 1930 – 1935

(Researched by E3161 Victoria Edwards)

624 Brigadier William Henry Pferinger Elkins CB, DSO, CBE served as the 12th commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada from 1930-5.

Born on 13 June in 1883 at Sherbrooke, Quebec, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Kingston, in June 1905 and was commissioned in the Royal Canadian Artillery; his first posting was to “B” Battery, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (RCHA). He served with “N” Battery, Royal Horse Artillery in India from 1908-10, and while on the sub-continent completed his Captain qualifying examination.

He served as Commanding Officer Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade 1916 – 1922.

In December 1917, he was evacuated due to illness and convalesced at the Prince of Wales Hospital for Officers at Marylebone. He returned to duty with the Brigade in time for the German Offensive in the Spring of 1918. Lieutenant-Colonel Elkins controlled the movement and deployment of his own two batteries as well as twelve additionally assigned batteries. He withdrew more than fifty-six kilometers in ten days while under constant enemy pressure. A command of this size was normally a job for a Brigadier with a sizeable staff. In October 1918, a Royal Field Artillery Battery along with “I” and “N” Batteries, Royal Horse Artillery were placed under his command. In an operation supporting an attack on the high ground north of Montay, the Canadians advanced eight miles on a front of more than three miles, to 400 prisoners and captured a large number of enemy weapons. This action earned Lieutenant-Colonel Elkins a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order.

Lieutenant-Colonel Elkins and his Brigade returned to their usual peacetime duties of training the militia; he continued in command until 1922 when he was appointed Commandant Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Halifax. Other successive appointments were Camp Commandant Petawawa, another short term as Commander of the RCHA Brigade and Chairman of the Standing Arms Committee. He was promoted Colonel in 1925.

On his subsequent promotion to Brigadier in 1930, he was appointed to command the Royal Military College, a post he held until 1935. He was concerned that cadets were prioritizing sports during the games season to the detriment of their studies. He introduced an academic eligibility rule in 1931-2 for participation in hockey and football. He divided the cadet battalion into 6 companies instead of 2 to enable greater participation in intramural sports. He stepped up intramural hockey and football – increasing the number of games and the number of participants. RMC aims were to produce officers and engineers, and to provide a general and cultural education. In 1932, the competition to enter RMC was particularly hot, perhaps a consequence of the depression. Since many recruits had qualifications higher than junior matriculation, they repeated work they had done before and risked becoming bored. Consequently, some elementary science work was dropped in favour of advanced studies in imperial geography, military history and economics. Many parents preferred that their sons prepare for careers in law, accounting or business to engineering. During the construction and industrial growth slump in the depression, engineers found it hard to find employment. In 1932, Elkins disciplined and demoted a BSM to Corporal for recruiting/hazing “conducting physical training exercises… in the dormitory” contrary to orders.

He served as District Officer Commanding 2nd Military District 1935 – 1938. He was Master-General of Ordnance, National Defence Headquarters 1938 – 1940. He served as General Officer Commander in Chief Atlantic Command 1940 – 1943. Major-General Elkins was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on 1 January 1935 and in November 1938 was appointed Master General of Ordnance. In 1943 he was appointed Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath; he retired in 1944. He died in 1964. The [Elkins] piano room at the Royal Artillery (RA) Park Officers Mess in Halifax was named in his honour.

Sources:

http://www.gunner.ca/English/Great%20Gunners/elkins.htm

Richard Preston ‘RMC: A History of the Royal Military College’

One Comment

  • Glen Hartle

    September 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Good afternoon,

    I’m trying to find out more about the General – specifically his time in Ottawa from 1938-1940 while in charge of ordnance.

    Glen