SPREAD ACROSS Canada are eighteen Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve Divisions through which the Royal Canadian Navy gains its recruits.
Since the outbreak of war, naval recruiting has taken place mainly through these divisions, and preliminary training of the newly-entered men has also been undertaken at these inland centres. In true navy style, the divisions are known as “ships,” bear ships’ names and follow ship routine.
Every province is represented, as the list shows: In Prince Edward
Island is H.M.C.S. Queen Charlotte, at Charlottetown; New Brunswick has H.M.C.S.Brunswicker, at Saint John; Quebec lists H.M.C.S. Cartier and H.M.C.S. Montreal, at Montreal, and H.M.C.S. Montcalm, at Quebec. Ontario has the greatest number— H.M.C.S. Carleton, Ottawa; H.M.C.S Cataraqui, Kingston; H.M.C.S. York, Toronto; H.M.C.S. Star, Hamilton; H.M.C.S. Prévost, London; H.M.C.S. Hunter, Windsor; and H.M.C.S. Griffon, Port Arthur. Manitoba is represented with H.M.C.S. Chippawa at Winnipeg; Saskatchewan with H.M.C.S. Queen at Regina and H.M.C.S. Unicorn at Saskatoon. Alberta also boasts two establishments, H.M.C.S. Nonsuch, Edmonton, and H.M.C.S. Tecumseh, Calgary. On the west coast there is H.M.C.S. Discovery at Vancouver, B.C.
In addition there are the mam naval establishments at the east and west coasts, H.M.C.S. Stadacona at Halifax and H.M.C.S. Naden at Esquimalt. These are the bases from which men in training are finally drafted for service at sea.
Although the expansion of the naval strength has been impressively large, there has been no tendency to lower the standards of efficiency or to lessen the qualifications demanded of prospective recruits.
At the divisional centres medical
examinations are as strict as they were in prewar days, with the additional searching check instituted by the use of X-rays to determine that the men are physically fit.
When accepted for entry into the Service, the seaman-in-the-making takes the oath of allegiance, a single,
simple sentence reading: “I,.......
do sincerely promise and swear (or solemnly declare) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Britannic Majesty, his heirs and successors according to law.” The Oath may be administered by a commissioned officer of the Naval Service.
Service is for the “duration of hostilities,” and the seaman is subject to “the provisions of the Naval Service Act, and of the Regulations made in pursuance thereof for the government of the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, and to the customs and usages of His Majesty’s Canadian Naval Service.” He agrees to “serve ashore or afloat as may be directed, according to where my services are required.”
The Oath of Allegiance is always administered individually.
Preliminary training at the recruiting centres is a matter of only a few weeks, during which the “new entries” (by which term naval recruits are known) are kitted up. Including two hammocks, a hammock bed and two blankets, there are sixty-seven items of clothing and equipment issued. Each item is marked with the seaman’s name, and the hammock and bedding are taken by him wherever he is drafted.
Initial instruction is given in squad and rifle drill, the use of nautical terms, elementary seamanship, signalling by flags, lights and telegraph key, and physical and recreational training. In addition there are school classes, in which the ordinary educational subjects are studied, and there is such extracurricular but necessary tuition as
the art of sleeping in hammocks and the correct way to wear the King’s Blue with which they have been issued.
For a great many of the men, the second phase of their preliminary training takes place at the Naval establishment in Toronto: H.M.C.S. York, which has earned the title of “the most important training station on fresh water within the Empire.” Where, in their divisional centres, the men were assembled in their scores, in Toronto they parade in their hundreds.
Practically the same syllabus of training is undertaken, only in more intensified form, so that when the third stage is reached—in which the men are drafted to the permanent training bases at east or west coasts— they go with a thorough grounding in Naval lore.
At the coasts the training is rigorous, for here the men are readied for sea. They get instruction in the use of heavy guns and get their first sea time in ships of war, for every opportunity is taken to send them out on training cruises. And, finally, they are drafted to sea, taking their places beside the well-trained and experienced men whom they have come to reinforce.
The Senior Service has had a vast reservoir of volunteers upon which to draw for its recruits. Men from the Prairie provinces have proven themselves as good “seamen-material” as have the men from the coastal villages of Nova Scotia; men from the industrial centres of Ontario measure up beside men from the mining camps of Quebec. Across the Dominion, too, are Sea Cadet Corps supported by the Navy League, where boys get primary training during evening hours. And each, whether neophyte or partiallytrained youth, when molded by the Canadian naval training system, is able to take his station confidently in a Canadian ship of war.
Training for officers is along similar, but more rigorous, lines. There are two officers’ training establishments at present, H.M.C.S. Royal Roads, at Esquimalt, and H.M.C.S. King’s, at Halifax. In course of making is the new Naval College, at Esquimalt. The courses followed by seamen-inthe-making are paralleled by the embryo officers, for it is an unwritten naval rule that no officer may order a man to do that which he cannot do himself. With their initial training over, the probationary officers go on to advanced courses. There are strict tests to be passed before they are qualified for their commissions. And, until they have gained the experience, in actual sea time beside officers who already have the experience, their responsibility is limited.
The Navy, which insists that its training standards for ratings shall not be lowered, is even more insistent that the officers who will lead those ratings shall come, fully-qualified and proven, to their task.—E.H.B.
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