Tuesday, January 12, 1915

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Battalion drill and training.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The Associated Press filed this report which was later picked up by various American newspapers:-

“Salisbury, England, Jan 10 –  The old world and the new world met when the War Office assigned troops from Western Canada to the great manoeuvre grounds on Salisbury Plain, one of the most historic places in England.  Huts of corrugated iron and wood alternate with tents and give the various soldier colonies the helter-skelter appearance of Goldfield in its boom days.

To add to the primitive appearance of the camps suddenly hurled into the midst of a country which was the scene of rural peace and quiet, the War Office is constructing a railway through the centre of Salisbury Plain to supply the big army encamped there.

Graders and steelmen are camped along the right-of-way.  Horse tents and commissary shacks line the cuts whose banks are slipping and sliding under the effects of driving rains which hinder the work nearly every day.

Canadian soldiers who have kept diaries for the twelve weeks they have been on Salisbury Plain report they have recorded only four sunshiny days.  The weather offices at many south coast towns not far from Salisbury report a rainfall of nearly seven inches for the last month, the record for twenty-five years.  While the main roads through Salisbury Plain are macadamized, the heavy traffic incidental to the care of more than two-hundred thousand troopers encamped there at various times since the opening of the war, has worn holes in the roads and the torrential rains have covered them with liquid mud many inches thick.

The fields in which the tents and huts are located are so soft that troopers sink to their ankles.  Supply wagons are hopelessly mired even in highest positions of the camps and it is necessary to shift the roads constantly.

Much of the canvas has rotted and water trickles through upon the soldiers who protect their blankets with rubber ground sheets.  Only a small proportion of the Canadians are now under canvas, however, and shacks are being constructed for these as fast as material can be hauled to the various camps.

Drill grounds are moved every few days and it is almost impossible to find any place where the artillery and cavalry can move about.  The development of the new troops has been hindered so seriously, that the Canadians gladly welcome reports of a probable movement to the south of France where sunshine and dry camps are promised….

The spirit of good fellowship between the officers and men in the Canadian contingent is the source of surprise to officers of the British regular army.  At times they are inclined to charge the Canadians with lack of discipline.”   [2]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Jan 12, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “Canadians At Salisbury,” The Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, February 12, 1915, pg. 11, col. 6.


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