GREAT WIND STORM HITS CAMP in 1914

Wednesday, November 11, 1914

Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Morning fine.  Afternoon very windy; many tents blown down.”  [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “On the 11th a wind storm blew down most of the marquees and all of the divisional headquarters tents but one.  Rain, fog, frost and mud, from which there was no respite, made life miserable for men and horses.”   [2]

11 Nov 14GREAT WIND STORM HITS CAMP: “Salisbury Plain Thursday, Nov 12.  Something approaching a cyclone struck the Canadian Camp last night, and the volunteers from the Dominion had a merry half-hour.  Tents were torn to shreds, marquees were dashed to the ground, and valuable documents and papers were scattered to the four corners of the wind-swept plain.  Of all the weather experienced by the Canadians since their arrival in Britain, this was the worst.  The storm broke practically without warning, and in five minutes about the only marquee left standing at Divisional Headquarters was the post office, which members of the postal detachment saved by building a wall of heavy sacks around the tent.  Not a single piece of mail matter was lost, the postmen having taken the precaution of placing everything in bags at the first sign of the gale.

Considerable inconvenience will be caused by the loss of important papers that were blown away when the office of the administrative staff was wrecked.  Just before the marquee gave away, officers, seeing that it could not last much longer, gathered up a lot of the documents that were lying about and carried them to the paymaster’s office.  Hardly had they completed their task when that marquee also was swept away.  In other parts of the Canadian Camp nearly every unit of the force suffered loss of some kind.  Orderly offices, mess tents and kitchens by the score were blown about as if they had been so much paper, and their contents were scattered in all directions.  In the Ontario camp a sergeants mess tent crashed in as the men were sitting at their evening meal.  Scores of the officers were compelled to tramp to adjacent villages for dinner, their canvas dining rooms having failed to live through the storm.  Canada’s soldiers are surely having a taste of all kinds of English weather, but they are taking the life easy and thanking their stars that yesterday’s storm broke at six in the evening instead of at midnight.” [4]

[1] War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Nov 11, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089676.jpg
[2] Col. A.F. Duguid, “Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Vol. 1, Part 1,”  King’s Printer, Ottawa, 1938, pg. 129.
[3] William Marchington, “Canadian Camp Swept By a Terrific Storm; Post Officer Was The Only Tent Left Standing.” The Globe (1944-1936), Toronto, Ontario, November 28, 1914, pg. 10.
[4] Ibid

 

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