Sunday, January 3, 1915

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Rain all day.  Heavy snow at night.  Confidential letter received from 3rd Bge. regarding possible move.  Noted and passed on to 15th Bn.” [1]

03 Jan 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “The Regimental Sergeant Major (R.S.M.) is the senior non-commissioned soldier in an infantry battalion. During the First World War, this appointment was held by the senior soldier at the rank of Warrant Officer, Class 1, and normally only one man on regimental duty held this rank. The term “Regimental Sergeant Major” itself starts to appear in contemporary documents such as individual service records about 1916.

The R.S.M. is the principal advisor to the Commanding Officer (C.O.) on matters of discipline, dress, deportment, and drill and ceremonial. He will also be relied upon for his experience to advise on methods and organization of training, and all manners of provision of support (personnel administration and logistics) within the battalion. The R.S.M. is the principal disciplinarian within the battalion for those matters which, because of their nature or severity, have not had to be referred for charges under the Kings Regulations and Orders.

While the C.O. will exercise command of the battalion through a chain-of-command consisting of the Company and Platoon Commanders, the R.S.M. has a parallel chain of communications through the Warrant Officers (i.e., the Company Sergeants Major) and the Sergeants within the Companies. This supplementary chain of communication ensures that the mood of the battalion and the complaints of the soldiers can be passed upward and eventually reach the C.O’s. ear as needed to help maintain order and discipline within the battalion.”

Regimental Sergeants Major in the Canadian Army are sometimes informally referred to in third person by their appointment, for example “RSM Bloggins.” However, their commanding officers universally hold the privilege of addressing them as “RSM” (The practice of doing so by subordinates may be governed by regimental tradition). In no case is an RSM supposed to be addressed simply as “Sergeant Major”.  Subordinates address the RSM as “Sir.” [1]

14th Battalion Regimental Sergeant Majors during the First World War:- 

Colour Sergeant  C. Basil Price                                              1914

WO1 (RSM)  John M. Stephenson, D.C.M                          1914-1915

WO1 (RSM)  William A. Bonshor, D.C.M.                          1915

WO1 (RSM)  Edwin Cowen, D.C.M.                                    1915-1916

WO1 (RSM)  John W. Green, D.C.M.                                   1916

WO1 (RSM)  Wilfred Farnell, D.C.M.                                   1918    [2]


[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Jan 3, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]     Captain Michael O’Leary;
[3]   Allan Patrick, & Lt.-Col. R Jarymowyez, CD, The Royal Montreal Regiment 1945-1989, The Royal Montreal Regt., Westmount, 1991.

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