RMR Arrives in UK


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

Wednesday, October 14, 1914

Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South

“Battn. H.Q. and Nos. 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8 Companies (Battn. was still in 8 Company formation) arrived Devonport on S.S. Alaunia, remaining on board ship, awaiting orders.   Lt.-Col. Meighen landed to meet Col. J.W. Carson.* Destination now known to be Salisbury Plains.”  [1]

*  *  *

This above initial entry in the Battalion’s War Diary upon arrival in Britain is dated Oct. 14th [1914] and shows a location of “Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South.”  This part of the diary appears to have been transcribed sometime after the events described.

Readers of these 100th anniversary postings should be aware that the Diary entries to be found here will incorporate the text of the diaries as they were originally hand written at the time, and also the text of the typescript of those diaries, as submitted to the Canadian Pay and Records Office in London.  These diaries for the 14th Battalion may to be found at Library and Archives Canada; search on 14th Battalion at   http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/020152_e.html



14 Oct 14“Reports of German submarines in the English Channel changed the intended destination at the last minute from Southampton to Plymouth. Ploughing through heavy seas on the final lap of the voyage, the first transports entered Plymouth Sound at 7:00 a.m. on 14 October, and thirty-six hours later the Admiralty reported all safe in Harbour.  Dock and rail facilities at Plymouth and adjacent Devonport fell far short of those at Southampton; but since the Channel was not yet free of danger Admiral Wemyss was ordered to proceed with disembarkation.  Late on the 14th Colonel V.A.S. Williams, who had brought the Contingent across the Atlantic, handed over command to General Alderson and next morning the force began unloading.”  [3]

“The Alaunia reached Plymouth first of all the convoy, but the Andania was only a few hours behind and both ships anchored for the night in Plymouth Harbour.  Here the troops were deeply interested in powerful searchlights, which flashed across the water, or sent their long, white beams groping into the blackness of the sky.  After the ocean voyage, during which lights had been forbidden and vision at night dependent on the whim of the October moon, the brilliantly lighted transports, the searchlights, the constantly winking signal lamps, and the glow from myriad lights ashore afforded a spectacle fascinating in the extreme.

Morning brought new sights and interests. A great dreadnought lay at anchor not far from the Andania, provisioning and fitting for some special service; tugs and small craft darted about on urgent business; and one by one the Canadian transports were towed upstream to Devonport.  Both the Alaunia and Andania were docked during the afternoon and without delay much dunnage was enthusiastically dumped ashore.  This scandalized the dockyard authorities, who ordered the troops to carry all the material back on board and to keep it there until word to land it was given officially.”  [4]

* Col. J.W. Carson was the leader of the small advance party which preceded the Contingent to England.

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Oct. 14, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[2]  “Canadian Troops land At Plymouth,” The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, October 15, 1914, pg. 1, col. 5
[3]  Col. G.W.L. Nicholson, CD., Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, Duhamel, Queens Printer, Ottawa,1962, pg. 32.
[4]  R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg 15.





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