Wednesday, May 25, 2005

25 May 1915 - Leslie Payne's Army Pay Book

Leslie Payne's Army Pay Book contains several entries indicating when he was paid over the summer of 1915. Together with entries in the Pay Sheets included with his C.E.F. Service Records, I have pieced together the following account:

Date :: Location :: Event (Source)

Begin. May :: Sandling :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
25 May :: Dibgate :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
6 July :: Shorncliffe :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
- & Pro[moted] to Cpl. Auth. Part II O[rder] No 160. (Service Records)
7 July :: Shorncliffe :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
- & Confirmed in Rk. of Corpl. By O/C 2 D.T. Pt. II - 160 & Nom. Roll 3/8/15 (Service Records)
15 July :: Dibgate :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
30 July :: Otterpool :: Paid (Army Pay Book)
1st Aug :: - :: Assigned $25 of Pay to Constance Hogg, 48 Sackville Street (Service Records)
1st - 31st Aug :: Temp[oraril]y Employed as Armourer (Service Records)
1st - 30th Sep :: 3rd Class Work Pay. 7 days (Service Records)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

24 to 29 May - Musketry course at Hythe ranges

During the week starting 24th May, all four companies of the Train attended Musketry courses at the Hythe ranges, commencing with a parade at 7 am on Monday.

The School of Musketry was set up at Hythe in 1853 by the then British Commander-in-Chief, Lord Hardinge, and is still used to this day. A brief history of the Corps formed by Lord Harding at Hythe is given on this British Army web site.

Charles Ross Francis, in his Personal Experiences and Impressions of the Great European War, on "For King and Empire", gave the following account of his first week at the ranges, some five weeks after the 2nd Divisional Train had been there:
Monday, July 3
At 11 am today we marched down to the Hythe ranges to practice shooting. It is the first I had ever shot out of a rifle and I made a fairly good score considering (16 out of 20). We carry full packs and as the road is rather hilly it is quite a strenuous walk especially coming back which is more uphill. The Hythe ranges are supposed to be the best in this world. They are down by the beach so that we shoot towards the ocean. The ground is all shingle (pebbles) and while it is hard to walk on it is very good for wet weather.

Wednesday, July 5
We are continuing with the ranges. I have been coaching every day besides shooting, and while it is not hard work it is rather monotonous and some days very hot as we are now in the blazing sun without any cover. I am burnt as brown as an Indian.

Friday, July 7
We completed our course at the ranges this afternoon. The Battalion as a whole did fairly well but I was not able to keep my own score as I was too busy on the coaching. If possible I may be able to get it and will jot it down afterwards. We shot from ranges from 1 to 600 yards at targets like this,
1 - Bull = 4
2 - Inner = 3
3 - Magpie = 2
4 - Outer =1
For ranges to 1 and 2 hundred the targets are 6'x 6' and for the long distance 8'x8'.
Private Francis trained with the 90th Battalion, also from Winnipeg, which was subsequently broken up on the day that after the musketry course concluded, with the men being absorbed into other battalions.

Ernest Mosley Taylor, who served with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (C.M.R.) and was killed less than a year later, found the journey from their camp down to the ranges rather strenuous (in letter home which forms part of correspondence in the Taylor-Bury Collection):
8 August 1915
We have been having rather a strenuous time lately, and march down to Hythe every day to start. We start about 7 a.m., our lunch consisting of a jam sandwich and small piece of cheese. Hythe is about seven miles away, and we don't get back till five in the evening. Then I have a wash and clean up and get down to the rooms in time for supper at 7. This means that I have been doing about sixteen miles a day for the last week. I find I keep pretty fit on it though my feet are rather sore with the hard roads, and a rest today is welcome ... We are getting rather tired of having horses to look after. It tires on down so much and there does not seem to be any more prospect of riding them.
This postcard photo shows Canadian soldiers marching through the busy streets of Hythe, presumably on the way to, or on the way back from, the ranges.
Canadians at Hythe. Photo postcard courtesy of Christine Warren's Folkestone & Hythe web pages
A Soldier's Diary - 1916 : My Personal Experiences and Impressions of the Great European War, by Private Charles Ross Francis, published on The Archive, For King and Empire : Canada's Soldiers in the Great War
Correspondence of Ernest Mosley Taylor dated 8 August 1915, in the Taylor-Bury Collection, publ. by the Canadian Letters & Images Project

Sunday, May 22, 2005

22 May 1915 - Nos 5 & 6 Cos move to Newingreen Camp

Numbers 5 and 6 Companies moved from West Sandling to a new, tented camp at Newingreen, not far away, commencing at 6 am. The war diary records favourably, "Excellent Camp; under canvas."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

17 May 1915 - Transfer of Paymaster, Capt Sircom

The War Diary records that Captain G.C. Sircom, Paymaster of the 2nd Div. Train, was transferred to the Pay & Record Office in London, effective from 13 May.

George C. Sircom was 24 years old, married and a student in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the time of his enlistment at St John in February 1915. He had no previous military experience.

17 to 21 May 1915 - Training programme steps up & the horses arrive

In the week commencing 17 May, the training appears from the War Diary entries to have been stepped up a notch. The Monday morning commenced with a muster parade at 8.45 am, and presumably the week's programme was outlined to the men. Over the next five days, the weather was generally miserable, but the men were lectured on the use of the Ross rifle and, when possible, worked on several fatigues. On Tuesday, a few men from each of Nos 5 and 6 Companies - perhaps NCOs - were sent for musketry training on the rifle ranges, which were located on the beaches near Hythe.

In addition, the horses which were to form the backbone of the transport fleet of the 2nd Div Train, and become an important part of the soldiers' everyday lives, began to arrive on Tuesday. The War Diary notes: "40 Draft & 24 Riding horses taken on Strength; good type."

Sunday, May 15, 2005

15 May 1915 - Two promotions

The War Diary reports two promotions from within the 2nd Divisional Train today:

Private-Farrier Frank Edgerton Mitchell (#1716, orig. #88) from No. 5 Company was promoted to Staff-Sergeant, effective from 25 April.

Sergeant George Leslie Duplessie (#1653, orig. #70) was also promoted to Staff-Sergeant, effective from 26 April.

Presumably the men were given the afternoon off, as usual. The following day was Sunday, and there were no parades, allowing plenty of time for relaxation.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

14 May 1915 - A day of bad weather & more appointments

The War Diary reports a day of bad weather, and notes that the "health of men in tents (at Dibgate) better than those in huts (at West Sandling)." Sergeant Walter Leonard Jones (#1688, orig. #168), also from No. 5 Company and originally a book-keeper from St John, was appointed as an orderly room clerk and paymaster-sergeant.

Friday, May 13, 2005

13 May 1915 - Capt Ruddick, Medical Officer

The War Diary notes that on Thursday 13 May, Captain W.W. Ruddick, who had enlisted on 11 November 1914, and had been Medical Officer of the Train since their first months in Winnipeg - he signed the vaccination certifications on many of the soldiers' Medical Forms - also took charge of the Divisional Supply Column at Dibgate. This order was later (17 May) cancelled.

William Wallace Ruddick was a recent graduate as a physician from McGill University in Montreal (June 1914), but was originally from St Martin, New Brunswick, where he had served for two years as an officer with the 28th New Brunswick Dragoons. His father, Robert Carter Ruddick, also practised as a medical doctor in St Martin, St John parish, New Brunswick.

It is interesting to note that although there are images of two Attestation Papers for Ruddick on the LAC Soldiers of the First World War database, neither of these is his original AP. There is one AP filled in and signed at St John, New Brunswick on 26 Feb 1915, which was later rubber-stamped by the Pay & Record Office on 7 May 1915, and another which appears to have been completed in Montreal on 3 Jan 1919, after the end of the war.

The War Diary entry for that day also notes that Ruddick's batman, Private William Fred Fader (#50714 orig. #1659, not #678 as shown in the War Diary), originally with No. 5 Company, was "attached to No. 7 Company for rations, quarters and discipline." Presumably this was because Ruddick himself was now based in the tented camp at Dibgate, while No. 5 Company was still back at West Sandling. Fader was a cook before signing up, and therefore probably well suited to being a batman!

1901 Census of Canada, Images from Library & Archives of Canada & Indexed by
New Brunswick Vital Statistics from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
Canadian Medical News: Medical Colleges - McGill University Canadian Medical Association Journal 1914 July, Vol. 4(7): 644–650
Medical Council Examinations, Canadian Medical Association Journal 1914 November, Vol. 4(11): 978, publ. online by PubMedCentral

Thursday, May 12, 2005

12 May 1915 - Route march & lectures

Wednesday brought a recommencement of the training programme with a route march in the morning, followed by lectures on map reading, orderly room work, camp hygiene etc.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

11 May 1915 - Parades, drill and inspections

On Tuesday morning, the War Diary records, the Train paraded at Dibgate for Company drill, while those who had been selected to become farriers attended lectures from the Veterinary Officer, Captain W.H. Simon. Presumably the men and officers from the other two companies marched over from West Sandling to take part.

Maj. Gen. James Melville Babington - Courtesy of the NYPL Digital GalleryAt 4 in the afternoon, the Train was inspected by Major-General J.M. Babington, C.B., C.M.G. on Sir John Moores' Plain. An experienced veteran of the Imperial Forces in the South African/Boer War, Babington had commanded the New Zealand Forces, and was regarded as an extremely competent thinking soldier and tactician. The image of Babington at left is from a series of cigarette cards of Boer War celebrities.

The two photos included below were very kindly sourced by Alan & Alison Smith from the Local Studies Library in Folkestone, to whom I am very grateful. Although not particularly clear, the images show troops drilling and exercising in the fields adjacent to Shorncliffe Barracks during the First World War. It is not possible to be certain, but it seems likely that they were Canadian.

Canadian troops drilling on the parade grounds adjacent to the Shorncliffe Barracks, First World War

Canadian troops exercising on the parade grounds adjacent to the Shorncliffe Barracks, First World War
H.C. Singer, in his History of the 31st (Alberta) Battalion, C.E.F. (Calgary, n.p., 1938, p. 22), has written:
Company and battalion drill and manoeuvres, trench digging, and similar work occupies most of the time. Courses of special instruction and bayonet fighting, grenade throwing, machine-gunnery, musketry, signalling and map reading were also inaugurated ...
Donald Fraser, who was at this stage in the 31st Battalion, wrote in The Journal of Private Fraser (ed. Reginald H. Roy, CEF Books, 1998, p. 23):
Friday, September 17, 1915: After a four months' training in Kent, England, where we had a very enjoyable time, first at Dibgate in the vicinity of Shorncliffe, then at Lydd where we had a rush shooting practice and finally at Otterpool where water was very scarce, we were considered fit and skilled in the art of warfare, ready to meet the hated Hun. When I think of it, our training was decidedly amateurish and impractical. It consisted mainly of route marches and alignment movements. Our musketry course amounted to nothing; we had only half an idea about the handling of bombs. We were perfectly ignorant regarding rifle grenades.
History of Thirty-First Battalion, C.E.F., republished in CD-format bvy ArchiveCD Books CanadaHistory of Thirty-First Battalion, C.E.F., from its organization November, 1914, to its demobilization June, 1919, compiled by Major H.C. Singer & written by A.A. Peebles, publ. 1938 privately in Calgary. This is now available as a digital reproduction from Archive CD Books Canada.

The Journal of Private Fraser, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918
The Journal of Private Fraser, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918, ed. by Reginald H. Roy, publ. 1998 by CEF Books

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

10 May 1915 - A move to the sands of Dibgate Camp

On the morning of Monday 10th May, the War Diary records a move of half the Train, including Nos. 7 and 8 Companies, out of the huts and to new accomodation at Dibgate Camp. At the new location, they were accomodated in tents; the camp was in an inferior location, very sandy and dirty, and the water supply was indequate. However, in spite of inclement weather for much of the time, their health was reported to be better than that of the soldiers in huts. Also on this day, Major W.A. Mitchell, originally from No. 8 Company, assumed overall command of both Nos. 7 & 8 Companies.

Brigadier General Alexander Ross, in his narrative included in Chapter Five of Major D.G. Scott-Calder's History of the 28th Battalion (reproduced on Robert Lindsay's excellent 28th North-West Battalion Headquarters web site), was not at all complimentary about the conditions at Dibgate:
Apart from the whole-hearted hospitality of the other Battalions of the 6th Brigade, there was little in the Dibgate Camp Area to make us feel. welcome and, as time went by, the first impressions of this locale did net improve. Fanned by every breeze that blew (and they were many and variable) the sandy soil showed a decided tendency to do everything except that for which it had been destined. It penetrated in large quantities the food, clothing and bedding, to say nothing of eyes, hair and mouths.
Lt. Wilbert H. Gilroy, a dental surgeon with the Canadian Dental Corps, was also billeted with the 6th Brigade at Dibgate in the summer of 1915. He was almost always bright and cheerful in his letters home, but his remarks about the sand indicated his strong displeasure:
The only objection to this place is that when it blows, as it is doing now, the sand is something awful.
Back at West Sandling, the Nos. 5 and 6 Companies were to remain in the huts for another fortnight. Private George Broome (440955, "A" Co., 32nd Battn.) was in the Third Canadian Division, which arrived in England in September 1915 as the Second Division left for France. He wrote the following to his mother in Melfort, Saskatchewan, from Risboro Barracks, Shorncliffe, which was not far from West Sandling, and the accomodation would have been very similar:
29th September 1915: We have had nice weather here till today and its raining cats & dogs. We are fixed up alright though. We are in huts. About 30 men live in each hut and have their beds and tables and chairs and crockery. The food is brought from the cook house and we eat right in our huts. They are pretty big although the name makes one think they are small.
Wilbert H. Gilroy Collection, Correspondence & Photographs, publ. by the Canadian Letters & Images Project
George Albert Charles Broome Collection, Correspondence & Photographs, publ. by the Canadian Letters & Images Project
The History of the 28th (Northwest) Battalion, C.E.F. (October 1914 - June 1919), by Major D.G. Scott-Calder, E.D., originally published 1961 by The Regina Rifle Regiment, republished on the internet by Robert J. Lindsay on 28th (North-West) Battalion HQ © Copyright The Royal Regina Rifles Trust Fund

Sunday, May 08, 2005

8 May 1915 - A weekend to relax

The men were given Saturday afternoon off, and for many no time was wasted in exploring their surroundings. Many men obtained passes and made their way into Folkestone to experience the local nightlife, while others preferred to relax in camp and write letters home to their loved ones. Robert Hale of the 6th Brigade Canadian Field Artillery (C.F.A.) had arrived at Shorncliffe a couple of months earlier, and was based at Moore Barracks in mid-March. In his letters home to his sweetheart Alice, he was quick to reassure her that he was one of the latter group:
We have just been here one week and today is the first fine day. Yesterday we were inspected by the Garrison General, all the Canadian soldiers. He was well pleased with the show. The Canadians are a much smarter looking crowd than the regular troops round here but that is because the best of the British troops have gone to the front and they have had to take smaller men to make up the regiments ... Some of the boys have gone on leave so I am going to put in a pass myself soon ... Today is Saturday and we were dismissed at 10 o'clock for the day so we have a good time when we come to consider it ... We are situated on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and the country round here is very pretty. Folkstone is a nice town but at night it is in total darkness. You cannot see a light so we don't go far in case we loose our way. Your watch is invaluable to me here. There are only three of us carrying them. Well dear, I don't think much of the so-called pretty girls round here. I would not give ten cents for a car load of them. Some of the boys go out every night and pick up girls. I don't know what they see in them round here. I have been to town twice since I came here.
...but in a later letter (25 June), he gave more details of their leisure activities:
We have just got back from church and it is a beautiful day. I think I will go over for Jock this afternoon and then we will go for a walk in the country. I went to a roller skating rink last Wednesday with Pat. It was a fancy dress night. Pat had a dress of some kind and you should have seen him. It would have been better if there had been more girls. I guess there were about ten soldiers to every one girl. Their rink here is on the pier. It is nice to sit on the pier at night and watch the sea. I wish you were here for a while. It would be just lovely wouldn't it dear?
On 1 July, another letter with more details:
Some of the Canadian bands are going to play in one of the parks in town tonight. I think I will go down and hear them.
The Henry Gordon Helm Collection, made available online by the Canadian Letters & Images Project, includes some interesting photographic views of Folkestone and surroundings produced in the form of two letter cards sent by Gordon Helm to his wife from Shorncliffe in August 1916. The first letter card shows a series of views of the tented camps on St Martin's Plains.

Letter Card posted by Gordon Helm to his wife from Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, England, in August 1916View 1 - Airships over tented camp at Shorncliffe
View 2 - Tented camp, including horse lines, near Shorncliffe
View 3 View 4 View 5 View 6 - Tented camp

... while the second includes half a dozen pictures of views in and around Folkestone.

Letter Card posted by Gordon Helm to his wife from Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, England, in August 1916View 7 - Folkestone Leas & Shelter, including pier mentioned by Robert Hale (above)
View 8 - Folkestone, Lower Sandgate Road, along which men may have walked to town, and including another view of the pier
View 9 - Folkestone Beach
View 10 - Folkestone Leas, Bandstand

The Henry Gordon Helm Collection, a collection of photographs & postcards publ. by the Canadian Letters & Images Project
The Robert Hale Collection, Correspondence, publ. by the Canadian Letters & Images Project

Friday, May 06, 2005

6 May 1915 - Captain Cooper appointed S.O.

The War Diary records that Captain Cooper - presumably the Capt. Gordon McNeill Cooper (later Major) mentioned in the List of Officers who arrived with the Train in late April - was appointed "S.O." on 6 May. Cooper was a former diamond merchant from London, Ontario, who had previously served for three years with the 16th Company Militia, C.A.S.C. I have been unable to find a reference to this abbreviation, but feel it may mean "Sanitary or Sanitation Officer."

Any comments or suggestions welcomed, and if confirmed, I will change the entry on the CEF Study Group Forum's List of CEF Abbreviations Used in Personnel Records & War Diaries.

The other entry in the War Diary for Thursday 6 May was:
All rations issued thru C.A.S.C. Training Depot.
The following extract from Wait for the Waggon, a History of the Canadian Army Service Corps, p. 101 (The Evolution of Supply and Transport, 1913-1918) described the formation and evolution of the C.A.S.C. Training Depot:
At the end of March 1915 a CASC Training Depot with a strength of 18 Officers and 158 other ranks left Canada for England, where it was located at Shorncliffe. In addition to carrying out training, it accomodated reinforcements arriving from Canada and casualties ready to return to active service. In July, when the CASC took over the supply of all Canadian troops in England, it was reorganized into a Training Company and an Operating Company on order to handle this work.

Drafts sent to France by the Training Depot went first to a Base Depot at Le Havre where they were taken on strength of an Army Service Corps Pool. If urgently required, they went directly from the Pool to operational units. Otherwise, they were sent from the Pool either to a Base Mechanical Transport Depot at Rouen, or to a Base Horse Transport and Supply Depot at Le Havre, both British units, where they received further training until required in the field. Thousands of MT Drivers, including many Canadians, were trained at the former Depot.

Later, two additional CASC Training Depots were opened in England at Bramshott and Witley. However, it was learned that this led to an undesirable diversity of training. They were closed in April 1918, leaving only Shorncliffe.
Wait for the Waggon, The Story of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, by Arnold Warren, publ. 1961, by McClelland and Stewart Limited.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

3 May 1915 - The first week of training in England

Monday morning brought the men a taste of what their training was to be like in England, with a long route march in the morning and dismounted wagon drill and other activities in the afternoon. They were exhausted after the first day, only to find that the schedule was to be repeated each day for the rest of the week. On Tuesday, they also had a lecture on horses from Captain Simon, the Veterinary Officer. Friday morning brought a full inspection of all four C.A.S.C. companies by the General Officer Commanding (G.O.C.) the Canadians.

The training regime was certainly a step up from what they had experienced in Canada, but they acquitted themselves well. Louis Duff (28th Battalion, in Letters Home) reported, perhaps a little breathlessly:
We thought we were training pretty hard in Winnipeg but we are going at it even harder now. About another four weeks and they figure we will be fit for the firing line.
The following is an extract from the John Mould Diaries, as presented as part of an online exhibit by the Archives of Ontario:
... a walk a distance of twenty to thirty miles in one day. It came very hard on them the first week or two, quite a number of men falling sick with sore feet but they settled down to it after a while and can now march the distance and feel nothing of it, everyone being in good condition. The country here has seemed to work wonders and every man at the present time is fit for anything.
On Friday, all four companies were inspected by the G.O.C. at Sandling, and on the Saturday morning, "considerable time was devoted to physical training." The War Diary reports, "General health of men very good." They were given the remaining half-day off which, together, with the usual absence of parades on Sunday meant they had plenty of time for more recreational activities.

John Mould Diaries, an online exhibit by the Archives of Ontario