1885 Heroism ...

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I recently discovered a real treasure trove of material reproduced from THE CANADIAN PICTORIAL AND ILLUSTRATED WAR NEWS, published during Canada's North West Rebellion in 1885.  I was able to provide some very relevant material to a gentleman who is the current owner of the North West Canada medal named to Sergeant F.W. "Fred" Curzon, of Toronto's 10 Battalion (Royal Grenadiers of Canada), and thought that it might be of some interest to members of this board.

In civilian life, Curzon was a lithographer employed by the Toronto Lithographic Company (which supplied many of the images published in the Illustrated War News) and he served as a "Special Artist" for that publication during the conflict.  

The caption below this cover lithograph reads as follows:


Our Special Artist with Gen. Middleton’s command carrying off a wounded comrade from the battlefield at Batoche.

Portrait of Col. Segt. F.W. CURZON, of “G” Company, Royal Grenadiers, from a photograph by Dixon.

“Sergeant Curzon attended my Ambulance Class last winter, and learned how to stop bleeding.  His knowledge enabled him to save the life of a man who was shot through the main artery of the arm and was fast bleeding to death.  He did it under fire.”  - Private letter from Dr. Ryerson, Asst. Surgeon, 10th R. G.

Here is the text from the inside of the paper, relating to this cover:

And from a later issue:

As mentioned in these items, Curzon was also a marksman of some note, scheduled to be a member of Canada's shooting team at Wimbledon in 1885.  He also was a member of the team in other years.   Here is a photograph of the Canadian Wimbledon Team in 1889 ... third from the right in the rear row is "S.Sgt. Curzon, 10th Bttn. Royal Grenadiers".  The only decoration he appears to be wearing is his North West Canada Medal, visible just above his sash.  (He was not awarded the Victopria Cross, if indeed he was ever even nominated for it.)

Major Matt Lewis:
What exactly is a Grenadier anyway? 

Reb Tyree:
My Father served in the Canadian Army in the late 1940's he was armed with the Enfield Rifle in 303, unknown which model.  He once told me a story about his Sergeant, who could hit a rifle target at 2000 yrds with open ladder sights,  Don't know if it was a tall tale or not.  But I did enjoy his stories of his time in the Canadian Army and the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Sir Charles deMouton-Black:
Grenadiers go way back to the days of the Brown Bess, or earlier.  A Battalion had 10 "line " companies, and a light company of skirmishers and a grenadier company.  Thes last two were termed "Flank" companies as they formed up with the Grenadiers at "the right of the line", a position of honour and precedence, and the light company on the left.

The grenadiers were first set up as just that, to throw grenades, which took strength and some technical ability.  They were chosen from the tallast members of the Battalion.  Because they had to sling arms while employing grenades, they wore a "mitred" hat to not impede that process.  I may be wrong, but later on the actual employment of grenades was less common, and the grenadier company was the "elite" backbone of the Battalion.  At some point Grenadier battalions were organized, as elite forces.  When battalions became standardized, the term "Grenadier" attached to a battalions name denoted a units history, or for a newly raised unit, a bit of vanity.

A similar process was carried out with the "light" company, and one of Canada's regular regiments today, is the PPCLI, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The marchpast of the Royal Artillery is the rousing tune "The British Grenadiers".  One of the British Guards regiments is the well known Grenadier Guards.

Good summary on Grenadiers by Sir Charles ... in 1885, this particular battalion of Canadian Militia would essentially have been regular infantry, distinguished only by name, insignia and similar small vanities ....

Reb:  at the time your father served, any .303 rifle issued in the Canadian Army would unquestionably have been a Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 4 MkI* made at Long Branch in Ontario ... in WWII Canada was able to equip its own military entirely with made-in-Canada rifles, and also supply many to Britain and other Commonwealth countries - it helped not being regularly bombed, of course ....  ::)   Anyway, here is the rather nice example in my collection:

However,  to bring this back to the 19th Century  where we belong .... here is the type of rifle which Colour Sergeant Curzon would have been carrying in 1885 - a .577 Snider-Enfield 2-band "Short Rifle", the type issued to Sergeants in Infantry units, and to all Other Ranks (enlisted men and non-coms) in 'Rifle' units ...

This version of the rifle was equipped with a rather formidable yataghan-bladed sword bayonet, to give it the same "reach" as the longer 3-band infantry rifle with its standard triangular-bladed socket bayonet ....

Here is a member of the 65th Battalion, Mount Royal Rifles (whcich also served in the West during the Rebellion) ... as a "Rifle" unit, they wore distinct rifle green uniforms with black leather accoutrements - you can see this Rifleman's 2-band rifle and yataghan bayonet ...

As already stated, most Canadian infantrymen were issued with the normal 3-band Snider-Enfield infantry rifle (the standard triangular-bladed socket bayonet is shown mounted on the rifles being volley-fired in the background image below ...)  The Snider-Enfield was obsolete, having been replaced long before this in the British Army by the Martini-Henry rifle (which in turn would be supplanted in 1888 by the bolt-action .303 Lee-Metford rifle) but Canada didn't start replacing the Sniders until we finally adopted .303 "Long Lee-Enfield" in 1898!

To round out this discussion, here is a period illustration of an Officer, Sergeant and Private of infantry - note that the Sergeant has the Short Rifle and yataghan bayonet (as Sgt. Curzon would have had ...  you will note this bayonet and its scabbard were quite lengthy - so it occurs to me that may be what is seen projecting downward just behind Curzon's left knee in the cover engraving in my first post.  At any rate, his Sergeant's sash - as seen below - is quite clearly depicted in the engraving.... )


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