New York Times Reports on Canadians Prowess in 1915

Sunday, March 21, 1915

In billets, Rue du Quesne

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “No work. Battn. resting.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “FREDERICK PALMER SENDS A LIVELY STORY from British Headquarters in France of the doings of the Canadians in the trenches. The details of trench life as sketched by a master hand are worth reading. There is the frank confession that ‘the shells made us nervous at first, but we are used to them now.’ There is the greeting of the Colonel from Quebec to his ‘boys,’ a phrase ‘which one never hears from an English officer.’ There is a description of the returning patrol crawling back to their trench, Indian fashion, and reporting that they got ‘within seven feet of the bunch in that old house and heard them whispering.’ Finally there is the observation of a veteran war correspondent that ‘the Canadians have shown characteristic ingenuity and initiative in arranging the trenches to suit themselves, and have made them wholly dry and comfortable.’ All of which shows that the men with the Maple Leaf badge are worthy representatives of Canada, and can be trusted to hold their own in camp, and on the field.”

Frederick Palmer (January 29, 1873 – September 2, 1958): “The New York Press hired Palmer in 1895 as its London correspondent; and this opportunity evolved into a long career. Palmer’s fifty years as a war correspondent began when he was sent to cover the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 for the New York World and for Collier’s Weekly. He then covered the gold rush in northwestern Canada. The Philippine–American War (1899–1902) provided an opportunity for him to cross the Pacific bound for Manila. In 1900, Palmer went to China to cover the Boxer Rebellion (1900); and then he was sent to cover the Boer War (1899–1902) in South Africa. Then the prospect of military conflict in Manchuria brought him back to China to cover the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) for the New York Globe.

The New York Times sent Palmer to cover the Balkan War in 1912. In 1914, Palmer was arrested in Mexico City while covering the Tampico Affair (1914) and the United States occupation of Veracruz for Everybody’s Magazine. In 1915 Palmer was the sole American correspondent accredited to the British Expeditionary Forces. When the Americans later entered the war, General John Pershing persuaded him to take on the task of press accreditation for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). In this period, he was accorded the rank of Colonel. Palmer subsequently became the first war correspondent to win the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Medal.

Between World War I and World War II, Palmer wrote thirty-one books. In his books, he provided an analysis of the future impact of weapons and strategies he had seen, and soon after the end of World War I predicted that a second world war was on the horizon. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Princeton University in 1935.

In May and June 1940, when Palmer was in his late 60s, he was at Dunkirk shortly before the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated, and while in his 70s he went to the Pacific theater. His last assignment was covering the atomic tests off Bikini Atoll in July 1946.”

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, March 21, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]   “War Summary,” The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, .Saturday, March 20, 1915, pg. 2 col. 2.
[3]   Wikipedia contributors, "Frederick Palmer (journalist)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 20, 2015).

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