Canadian Mounted Rifles

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Canadian Mounted Rifles

Doug Townend
Doug Townend

June 8th, 2007, 1:54 am #1

How and why did the unit name Canadian Mounted Rifles come into use?

Dt.
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GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB
GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB

June 8th, 2007, 11:16 pm #2

A total of six units designated as "Canadian Mounted Rifles" were raised (beginning in 1900) for service in South Africa during the Boer War:



http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/boer/mou ... ion_e.html

http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/boer/mou ... ent_e.html

http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/boer/can ... les_e.html

In 1901, a number of independent squadrons of Mounted Rifles were formed within the Militia, and of those "A" Squadron was transformed into a Regular Force unit designated "The Canadian Mounted Rifles" in July of the smae year. This latter unit was re-designated as "The Royal Canadian Mounted Rifles" in 1903, then in 1909 became "Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)" to honour the unit of that name which served in the Boer War, and ultimately "Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)" in 1911.

http://www.regiments.org/regiments/na-c ... /CMR01.htm

http://www.regiments.org/regiments/na-c ... /LSHRC.htm
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

June 11th, 2007, 1:55 am #3

Thanks for the links. Quite informative. Unfortunately, none of them provided an answer to my query - why the name Canadian Mounted Rifles was chosen.

Again, thanks.

DT.
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GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB
GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB

June 11th, 2007, 3:38 am #4

Well, at least I responded to the "how" part of your question ....

As to "why" .... that response must be more "general". It is my understanding that "modern" 'mounted infantry' and 'mounted rifles' units came into being as part of a general development in military thinking toward the end of the 19th century, as a result of the traditional battle role of cavalry (i.e. the mounted charge) rapidly becomong obsolete in the face of improvements in other weaponry - accurate and long-range repeating rifles, machine guns, artillery, etc. Cavalry became most useful in a "mounted infantry" role - their superior mobility was maintained (for effective scouting and rapid movement) but they more and more tended to fight dismounted, as riflemen. This combination was soon recognized as vital in the Boer War, against a very mobile irregular mounted force operating in open and sparsely occupied territory, just as the American Army had discovered during the Indian Wars of the 1860's-1890's, in which their cavalry played an ever increasing role, though standard tactics had them fight dismounted for the most part, Hollywood notwithstanding .... In the South African conflict many mounted infantry/rifles units were formed and used with great effect, and also in other armies of the period.

Because it had long been considered a bit more prestigious to be a "Rifles" unit, as opposed to mere "Infantry", many such units were named "Mounted Rifles", particularly in the Canadian and other Empire Forces of the day .... (If you are actually already aware of all the rest of the information in this post, I guess this is the closest answer possible to your "why?" ...)

http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/cav/mountinf.htm

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/16 ... ry/mi.html

The Canadian "School of Mounted Infantry" was first established (at Winnipeg) in 1885 as a new component in our very tiny "Permanent Force", not long after the first official Mounted Infantry components were added to the British Army. Here is a period studio photograph of a (L to R) private, officer, sergeant and bugler of that early unit, in winter dress:

At that time our military forces were still almost exclusively armed with obsolete Snider-Enfield rifles, as shown above - we didn't adopt the Magazine Lee-Enfield ("Long Lee-Enfield") until about 1896 - but the kneeling rifleman and the Sergeant nevertheless have "state-of-the-art" British Pattern 1882 Mounted Infantry Bandoliers!

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Joined: August 5th, 2006, 7:40 pm

June 11th, 2007, 5:38 am #5


Grant,

I bet this photo was taken sometime in the late 1890s to the first years of the 1900s because why else would 303 leather bandoliers be issued? The Sniders were probably the only rifles available at the time for the photo shoot.

My two cents worth,

Colin
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John Cameron
John Cameron

June 11th, 2007, 7:56 am #6

I think Grant is right. The tubes on the sergeant's bandolier definitly look bigger than the ones on .303 bandoliers. They look like Mounted Infantry Mk I bandoliers for .577 Snider (or Martini Henry). I believe the relatively few Martini Henrys we used during the NW Rebellion were returned to stores after the Rebellion was over and Sniders were reissued. Regulars and select Non-Permanent units started using Martini Metford Rifles and Carbines in 1893 and Lee Metford Rifles and Carbines replaced those about a year later. If I remember correctly, the Quebec Arsenal was producing .303 ammunition before 1893. The Lee Enfield rifle was issued to the Permanent Force first beginning in 1896 and it took over 4 years to equip all the Non Permanent units. The 43rd Regt. Order Book for 1899 records the issuing of the "new rifles" (Enfields), the Sniders had been replaced by Enfields in Permanent units several years before that.
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Joined: August 5th, 2006, 7:40 pm

June 11th, 2007, 5:13 pm #7


I agree with John that I think it is a .577 bandolier. I have since looked at my 1901 dated .303 leather bandolier and the loops for the rounds are much smaller. The leather loops in the .303 version are also not able to bend and twist like the ones seen in the photo, so the photo could have been taken sometime in the mid-1880s.

Colin
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

June 11th, 2007, 5:32 pm #8

Well, at least I responded to the "how" part of your question ....

As to "why" .... that response must be more "general". It is my understanding that "modern" 'mounted infantry' and 'mounted rifles' units came into being as part of a general development in military thinking toward the end of the 19th century, as a result of the traditional battle role of cavalry (i.e. the mounted charge) rapidly becomong obsolete in the face of improvements in other weaponry - accurate and long-range repeating rifles, machine guns, artillery, etc. Cavalry became most useful in a "mounted infantry" role - their superior mobility was maintained (for effective scouting and rapid movement) but they more and more tended to fight dismounted, as riflemen. This combination was soon recognized as vital in the Boer War, against a very mobile irregular mounted force operating in open and sparsely occupied territory, just as the American Army had discovered during the Indian Wars of the 1860's-1890's, in which their cavalry played an ever increasing role, though standard tactics had them fight dismounted for the most part, Hollywood notwithstanding .... In the South African conflict many mounted infantry/rifles units were formed and used with great effect, and also in other armies of the period.

Because it had long been considered a bit more prestigious to be a "Rifles" unit, as opposed to mere "Infantry", many such units were named "Mounted Rifles", particularly in the Canadian and other Empire Forces of the day .... (If you are actually already aware of all the rest of the information in this post, I guess this is the closest answer possible to your "why?" ...)

http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/cav/mountinf.htm

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/16 ... ry/mi.html

The Canadian "School of Mounted Infantry" was first established (at Winnipeg) in 1885 as a new component in our very tiny "Permanent Force", not long after the first official Mounted Infantry components were added to the British Army. Here is a period studio photograph of a (L to R) private, officer, sergeant and bugler of that early unit, in winter dress:

At that time our military forces were still almost exclusively armed with obsolete Snider-Enfield rifles, as shown above - we didn't adopt the Magazine Lee-Enfield ("Long Lee-Enfield") until about 1896 - but the kneeling rifleman and the Sergeant nevertheless have "state-of-the-art" British Pattern 1882 Mounted Infantry Bandoliers!
the additional info you provided have answered my question - the mother country did it so the colony followed suit.

Your info and the links have been most informative.

Thanks.

DT.
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GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB
GrantR, Medicine Hat, AB

June 12th, 2007, 5:16 pm #9

I agree with John that I think it is a .577 bandolier. I have since looked at my 1901 dated .303 leather bandolier and the loops for the rounds are much smaller. The leather loops in the .303 version are also not able to bend and twist like the ones seen in the photo, so the photo could have been taken sometime in the mid-1880s.

Colin
Definitely not .303 ... a .303 cartridge would slide right through the bore of a Snider-Enfield and fall out the muzzle! (Admittedly, late 19th Century arms and equipment are likely more my cup of tea than most here ...)

As I mentioned, the bandoliers in the photo are Pattern 1882 Mounted Infantry bandoliers, which were actually designed for use with the honkin' big bottlenecked .577/.450 Martini-Henry cartridge ... but they also work just fine with the .577 Snider-Enfield cartridge, which has the same body and rim diameter. (This I know from personal experience, as I own and shoot several Snider-Enfield and Martini-Henry rifles ... and have a very nice reproduction P'82 bandolier amongst my kit.)

"List of Changes" entry:



The first official .303 bandolier was the Pattern 1888 - which was essentially the same design as the P'82, but with downsized cartridge tubes - introduced for use with the Lee-Metford rifle adopted that year. That rifle, and the Lee-Enfield variant of it were, of course, still charged one round at a time, so this sort of bandolier remained desireable.

To move this thread properly back into the 20th Century ( ) the Pattern 1903 bandolier equipment which most folks here would likely be familiar with (i.e. with the pocketed leather bandoliers accomodating two 5-round chargers in each pocket) was introduced for use with the new S.M.L.E. That equipment had two bandolier designs - one with a total of nine pockets (five at the front and four at the back) for mounted services, in addition to the standard bandolier with five pockets (in the front) for infantry, who also had waistbelt mounted pouches ...



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Pat Holscher
Pat Holscher

June 14th, 2007, 1:22 pm #10

Thanks for the links. Quite informative. Unfortunately, none of them provided an answer to my query - why the name Canadian Mounted Rifles was chosen.

Again, thanks.

DT.
In most, but not all, armies there had been a long time custom of naming units based upon their roles, as we all know of course. Use of the term "rifles" originated when not all longarm equipped troops carried rifles. Rifles, of course, carried rifles, as opposed to muskets.

In some instances, in this period, these types of troops were mounted. They were not cavalry, but rather mounted infantry. That is, they were using horses as transportation, but were not expected to fight mounted. An example of this, for instance, in the U.S. Mounted Rifles, a regiment that was created in the 1840s in the U.S. Army, and carried rifles, rather than a carbine or solely a sidearm.

Carrying this forward, the name probably just sounds better than "mounted infantry", and is a better description than the other logical candidate, "dragoons". That likely explains the use of the term here.

Doug, really nice photos. I may post a link to this on the SMH site.
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