Canadians finally begin to move into UK billets in 1915

Wednesday, January 6, 1915

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “No parades.  All men on fatigues.” [1]

06 Jan 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “London, Jan 6.  Several thousand members of the Canadian contingent, after enduring many weeks on Salisbury Plain of some of the roughest and wettest weather remembered at this time of year, have now gone into billets in the towns and villages around the plain.  The brigade allotted to Devizes arrived yesterday afternoon and both men and horses bear witness to the extraordinary muddy conditions in the neighborhood of the hut camps, but there has been no grumbling.  The Canadians have borne themselves all through with cheerfulness.

Devizes is now the headquarters of the divisional artillery brigade, and the town accommodates some 900 men and 750 horses; while the other brigades with ammunition columns and horse artillery, some 3,000 to 4,000 men and their horses are distributed over all the villages and hamlets on a line extending several miles.  This has caused great pressure, not only on the house and cottage accommodation, but also on the farm buildings; but there has been loyal cooperation between the military and civil elements, the Canadians having won many friends since their arrival.

One of the buildings requisitioned is the famous agricultural school at West Lavington, where 300 men and a dozen officers are billeted.

Several cavalry regiments which have been encamped on the Devizes side of the plain have moved into billets in the Wylye valley on the south.  There are interesting statements as to their departure shortly for France, but these may not be published yet.

The river at Salisbury rose to such a height early yesterday that the cathedral was flooded.  Late on Monday night, though the water had risen to the west entrance of the cathedral, the building itself was free of water, but at four o’clock yesterday morning the floors of the nave, cloisters and chapter house were awash.  The water rose steadily until several inches of water in the body of the cathedral were recorded.  Torrents of water rushed through the ground floors of the houses on the south side of the cathedral close.

In the district of Amesbury a member of the Canadian contingent becoming separated from his comrades on Monday night, fell into the river near Counter’s Bridge and was swept away. His body has not yet been recovered.” [3]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Jan 6, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “Troopers In The Thousands Are Vacating Huts,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Wednesday, January 6, 1915, pg. 7, col. 1.
[3]   Ibid

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