City of London (Volunteer) Mechanical Transport Column.
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The manner in which the C.L.V.M.T.C. will build up is not 'so clear as the readiness with which leading makers and owners are giving the undertaking their hearty co-operation. Some valuable suggestions have, as was to be expected, been forthcoming. These, and other ideas whichit is hoped will be put forward when the Committee gets to work, are all calculated to increase the success of an effort which promises to be unique in not a few respects. We hope next week to publish the names of the two Company Commanders each of whom will be in charge of not fewer than six Convoys, and those of the Cornmanders and Deputy-commanders of Convoys who have already joined. These, with power to add to their numbers, will form the Committee which will organize the Column.
Experiments at Brighton in Combined Transport. infantry Drill.
Col. G. T. B. Cobbett, V.D., Commandant of the City of London National Guard Volunteer Corps, to which premier Corps the Column is attached, has called for one Convoy to take part in the Easter drilling and field exercises at Brighton, from the 1st to 5th prox. This first muster will be highly interesting, as part of the duties of the M.T.C. personnel will be to determine, as the result of tests which are then to be made, the outlines of drill, formations and movements in conjunction with the handling of platoons of infantry. No regularized system of combination exists in this regard, and there is obviously much scope for the settling of methods by which smartness and symmetry may be secured in course of taking up and putting down individual sections. Without such initial fixing of a scheme, there must hereafter be confusion, lack of uniformity, waste of time and complete absence of the equivalent of dressing. Step No. 1 towards the plan of assembly and rnanceuvring which will be adopted for the two big reviews and parades of June and July next should undoubtedly see present as many as possible of the keener officers, if only on one of the days, at the beginning of next month.
Nucleus or Skeleton Convoys.
One of the vahiable suggestions which have come to hand since last week concerns the minimum extent of practice drills that can be held compatible with efficiency on review. An owner, who is considering the contribution of a Convoy from his fleet, asks whether it might not suffice if the six vehicles were sent in three sets of two, on three Sundays before the parades or reviews of the whole Column, and expresses the belief that his men will by that means learn all that is necessary, whilst the complete Convoy of six vehicles will only be required twice. We
shall willingly assent to this view, in the case of any owner who is desirous to bear a share. of this latest development of the Volunteer movement, and through it to be associated with the powerful and well-backed City of London National Guard Volunteer Corps, which has already reached a strength of more than 3000 officers and men. There is no desire on our part to make the conditions either inflexible or onerous. Those qualities are not reconcilable with voluntary effort. Whereas, therefore, no "Individual Owner" Convoy will in any circumstances be called out more than five times in all between now and the end of July, which liability to call is also the maximum of any single-vehicle owner, the concession which we have explained is accorded. It is hoped, however, that whenever possible, the drivers of the four vehicles which remain in the depot will accompany their fellowdrivers on the two vehicles which attend. That course will enable them to become familiar with the combined transport-infantry drill.
A National Duty to Prepare.
The Transport Column to which we are devoting some of our energies is designed to allow those who have to remain at home to prepare for the future. It is wanted to complete the usefulness of the Corps which the Lord Mayor of London has raised, and in which Corps there are certainly not fewer than 2000 City men who lead busy lives and possess far-reaching connections. They have entered themselves in the country's "third line," and a large percentage of them is ready to step up higher in the scale if the call or selection to undertake active war service of any kind comes. They must have heavy transport for the purposes of certain kinds of drill, and those who help will undoubtedly be doing a good work. In the event of "real business" hereafter, and demands of a nature which will take away from commercial occupation perhaps half the men who are so far better occupied by staying at their business posts, those who have in part organized and trained themselves will be the more fit to respond, and the less likely to be passed over. . It is the duty of every Briton, though he remain at the work which helps to "keen the wheels of industry turning," to be seriously prepared for this war to go over a second winter, in which event many thousands. of its will be wanted. If that eventuality obtains, all Volunteer Corps will find heavy drafts, and only the old men, the women and the children will remain civilians. If this war ends abruptly, the underlying dangers which are known to our leading politicians and their advisers, both diplomatic and military, will riot permit relaxation and may even necessitate a law compelling universal tra,ining. Let each of us help in the branch of which he has knowledge. Those who • understand heavy transport are wanted most of all. Another 2100 from the A:S.C., M.T. Reserve Depot at Grove Park, Bromley, SE., per Colonel H. F. T. Fisher, came to hand at the end of last month, after we had closed the list which we sent to press for our issue of the 4th inst. Other and smaller donations, from the individual concerns indicated, up to the 6th inst., bring the total received to 23516 17s. 11d. There is, therefore, less than 21500 now to be collected, in order that the desired total of 25000 may be reached. Details of the collections, to Saturday last, are given separately. It will be observed that the contribution per Mr. H. E. Blain, Operating Manager of the L.G.O.C., heads the list of collections. We hope to be able to distribute the war cartoons before the end of the month.
Winter Purchases Practically Finished.
With the despatch of the final 1100 pairs of gloves this week, we practically complete the despatch of the winter comforts for the officers and men of the A.S.C., M.T. The approximate total expenditure to mid-March is £3000, which outlay leaves us to face the campaign during the spring and summer months with a prospective 22000 to draw upon. Whilst the demand for extra comforts during the winter is undoubtedly in many respects superior to the demand for comforts appropriate to hot weather, it goes without saying that
something must be done for the growing total of 17,000 odd Army transport workers between the present time and, say, the end of September.
If the war still goes on, we, of course, anticipate undertaking the duty and labour of conducting a distinct fund for the 1915-1916 period. Requests have already come to hand in large numbers for additional pairs of hand-knitted socks, and we have done our best to give publicity to this requirement. Officers in command of columns have also, of their own accord, conveyed to us intimations as to different extra sup_plies for which they will rely upon THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR " Campaign Comforts" Fund, to suit the exigencies of the hot weather and hot work which lie ahead of them.
Suitable Extras During the Spring and Summer.
The communications to which we have referred in the preceding paragraph are sufficient to confirm us in our view, which has long been held, that nothing would be more unwise than to spend the money during the winter months only. In seeking a total sum of 25000, we have desired to be in a position to avoid cutting off supplies of the little extras from home which count for so much when men are deprived of the opportunity to make purchases on the spot, and when individual parcels so often go astray, owing to faulty packing or misdirection. Furthermore,
anything that is done for a man by his relations is reckoned to be within the family, whereas anything that is done for him by a central tund is regarded by him as something which is provided, not'at his own oost, but as a token from his country of his being held in remembrance by those in the branch of industrial life in which at normal times he bears his share of activity.
We want suggestions as to the character of summer comforts, and we want them from readers both at home and at the Front. We are inquiring, for example, into the provision, at the lowest possible price, of suitable freezing powders. An occasional cold drink, when the mercury stands at 90 degrees in the shade or a higher level, is as nectar to a duststained and perspiring A.S.C. man, be he officer, N.C.O., or private. We hope to be able to provide each man of the M.T. Columns with the means for him to cool several drinks per week, and to do it at a cost which, although considerable in the aggregate, shall be almost nominal per cool drink. We ask that it shall be particularly noted that we do not intend to provide the drink, but only the freezing mixture into which the bottle, glass, or other vessel containing the beverage can be plunged for a few minutes, in order that it may be reduced to an acceptable temperature. Cool drinks at the Front, for the A.S.C., M'
.T. may appear to be a far cry with the atmosphere still laden with snow, but one has to look ahead in organizing matters of this kind.
The Pr c sent not the Time to Stop.
We desire, in mentioning the outlook, as we. conceive it, for mid-March to the end of September, to disabuse those of our readers of the idea, they having omitted so far to become supporters of the Fund, -that it is too late to help. That disinclination on their part is exactly the attitude of mind against which the whole country has been warned by Lord Kitcherer and by other responsible Mioisters of the Crown—the danger of thinking that the war is over, or that it will be concluded at an early date. We again wish to urge the view, and not only so for the purposes of this Fund, that when hostilities cease, the troops, together with the services which simply them, will not come home until after a further indefinite period.