Canucks can sleep on a picket fence

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY, 26 October 1914 – From the 14th BATTALION (RMR) WAR DIARY:

Monday, October 26, 1914

Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Rain. Training begun”  [1]

LORD ROBERTS’ REVIEW – An account by a member of the 14th Battalion (RMR):

26 Oct 14Private Harold ‘Hal’ Hareward Brown, No 25694 of the 14th Battalion, from Ottawa, son of Mr. J.H. Brown, of First Avenue in that city, had written to his father from camp on Salisbury Plain, telling of the review of the Canadian Contingent by Lord Roberts the previous Saturday, October 24th.

“We were reviewed this morning by Earl Roberts, lined up on the brow of a hill back of the camp.  The parade included our regiment, the First Royal Montreal, the Fifth Royal Highlanders, the Forty-eighth Highlanders, of Toronto, and several other corps, and took place at noon.

“Bobs, little, stony-eyed and soldierly, drove down our lines in a steel grey car, accompanied by Maj.-Gen. Hughes, and followed in three more grey autos by his military attaches.  He seemed smaller and older than I had imagined him, but the quick decisive movements of his head and hands as he looked, questioned, and nodded approval, betrayed an unflagging interest in soldiery affairs.  You could tell when he was approaching by the stiffening of the ranks, the tensing of the muscles of the men already stiffly at attention, and the silence – absolute silence – that followed in the wake of the old Marshal.

The mounted officers looked like equestrian statues, and as for the men – well I suppose we looked like graven images.  I know I was doing my best to look that way.

Tell the rest of the boys, if they want to achieve popularity, to come over here in a Canuck’s uniform.  Some of the older ladies even insist on kissing young and handsome members of the contingent.  If we had given away all the buttons we’ve been asked for by fair charmers, we’d be a ragged brigade.  If they want to achieve physical fitness also they ought to come along, for we are all strong and ruddy-cheeked, and able to eat at all hours, and able to sleep on top of a picket fence.”  [3]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Oct. 25, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]  “Canucks Can Sleep On A Picket Fence,” The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Monday November 9, 1914, pg. 1, col.3.,3680217
[3]   Ibid.

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