CANADIANS INTRODUCE TUMPLINE CONTINGENT IN 1915

Wednesday, March 24, 1915

In billets, Rue du Quesne

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Relieved 15th Battn. at night. Nos. 2, 1, & 4 Cos. in front line, beginning from right. No. 3 in support.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “CANADIANS INTRODUCE TUMPLINE CONTINGENT” – New Method of Transporting Packs by Soldiers Much in Favour on Western Front:

24 Mar 15London, Jan 11 – (Via Reuter’s Ottawa agency) Much interest has been aroused by the new method of carrying loads called ‘The Tumpline,’ which the Canadians introduced into the army. The ‘tumpline’ consists of a broad band, to each end of which a long strap is sewn. The straps are fastened around the load which the carrier then places on his back and passes the brow band over his brow. Thus the weight is borne on the head and the pressure of the weight is in a straight line down the spine, which can support heavy weights, while carrying them easier than any other part of the body.

The device enables a man to carry the load of two men for greater distances over slippery and shell torn ground with less time and fatigue. It also enables troops to shift their packs on the march, greatly increasing their marching capacity. Almost any small article required in the front line can be carried by the tumpline. Each ‘tumper,’ by means of special packs, can carry from 32 to 40 rations. Tumpline companies have been formed in connection with each brigade.”

Although tumplines were not generally introduced into general use by the Canadian Army until the later years of the Great War, their use, which originated with the First Nations people of Canada, proved to be a very effective means of carrying heavy loads, eg. ammunition, rations and supplies.

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, March 24, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089702.jpg
[2]    https://www.frostriver.com/shop/tumpline-replacement/
[3]     “Canadians Introduce Tumpline Contingent,” The Toronto World, Toronto, Ontario, Saturday, January 12, 1918, pg. 14, col.2.

 

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