Spy Scare on RMR troop ship

07 Oct 14THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY, 07 October 1914 – From the point of view of the 14th Battalion, divided as it was between two ocean liners, the Regimental history has this to say about life at sea.  “On the whole the voyage of the Contingent was uneventful. Life-boat drills were frequent and much time was devoted to physical training, boxing, signalling and deck sports of all varieties.  On the Alaunia a spy scare caused the arrest of two men, both of whom, at a later date, were publicly exonerated.* On the Andania an event of the voyage was the appearance of a Regimental paper, “The Fourteenth Battalion Bugler.”   The two issues of this journal, edited by Private C.D.B. Whitby, late of the Montreal “Gazette,” with the assistance of Private H.G. Brewer [later Lt.-Col.], late of the Montreal “Star,” were creditably produced and enjoyed a flattering circulation.  They contained, amongst other items, copies of the ship’s log, challenges to the men of the 16th Battalion for boxing and shooting matches, gossip of the voyage, verse, and a black bordered paragraph announcing the death of “Vic,” a cheery pup of doubtful lineage who had served as the Victoria Rifles’ semi-official mascot.  In view of the talent displayed in producing The Bugler, Private Whitby was requested to act as Regimental Historian and to preserve an unofficial record of the Battalion’s adventures and vicissitudes on active service.  Much to the Regiment’s regret, Private Whitby died as a result of wounds received at the Second Battle of Ypres, the history he had so faithfully compiled being destroyed by shell fire during the same engagement.”   [2]

* Note: Press reports after the arrival of the Canadian Contingent stated “That a spy was arrested on one of the Canadian troop ships during the voyage has been made known here.  He was a private in a Montreal regiment, spoke several languages, and was supposed to be a native of Holland.  The man aroused suspicion by the way he kept inquiring about the dispositions of certain Canadian regiments, and the brigade commander ordered his arrest.  A code and State letter were found in the supposed “spy’s” clothing, who was turned over to the authorities on reaching shore.”   [3]

[1]  Editing with Traces of the Past;  http://vimyridgehistory.com/kit-1/cda-rallies/armada/aboard/#gallery/344/388/0
[2]  R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pp 13-14.
[3]  “Spy on Canadian Transport?” Canadian Associated Cables, The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, October 17, 1914, pg. 3, col. 1.


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