RMR Riding the Rails to the Front in 1915

Wednesday, February 17, 1915

On board train proceeding to front

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Discipline on train excellent, though conditions were anything but comfortable for the men.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “All day on February 16th, that night, and again on February 17th, the train trundled slowly forward, through Nantes, Rouen, Calais, Boulogne, and other towns of but slightly less importance.  Stops were frequent, these being welcome to the troops, who appreciated any opportunity to stretch their cramped legs.  At nearly every halt the French-Canadians of No. 4 Company surprised and delighted the townspeople, who kindly supplied refreshments, by singing those old French songs so beloved and so well known in the Province of Quebec. “Tipperary” and “Annie Laurie” the wayside Frenchman associated with the travelling British Army.  “Alouette” and “En Roulant ma Boule” sung by men in khaki, touched his emotions and aroused his sympathies.  Good wishes and blessings, therefore, showered on the Royal Montrealers as the train crept towards the front.”   [2]    

17 Feb 15

“…servicemen in France were transported to the battle front on narrow gauge French railroads (Chemin de Fer) inside boxcars (Voitures) that were half the size of American boxcars. Each French boxcar was stenciled with a “40/8”, denoting its capacity to hold either forty men or eight horses. This ignominious and uncomfortable mode of transportation was familiar to all who traveled from the coast to the war;…” [4]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Feb 17, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089694.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 27.
[3]    http://don.genemcguire.com/40_8.htm
[4]   Ibid
[5]   Ibid

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