The Rain on the Plain Fell Mainly… On the Troops

Monday, December 7, 1914

In Camp, West Down South, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Entrenching work in afternoon.”  [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “On Salisbury Plain in the 123 days, from mid-October 1914 to mid-February 1915, rain fell on 89 days.  The average precipitation for that period, over the preceding thirty-two years was 11.98 inches; this was almost exactly doubled, and there was widespread flooding in the river valleys.

From 21st October, when the weather broke, and a quarter inch of rain fell, conditions in all camps grew progressively worse.  An inch fell in the next five days; it was cold and raw, with occasional frosts at night, and there were no facilities for drying clothing.  On 2nd November more than an inch of rain fell; in the high winds the light tents afforded little protection, and the number of blankets per man was increased from three to four.  On the 11th a wind-storm blew down most of the marquees and all of the divisional tents but one.  Rain, fog, frost and mud, from which there was no respite, made life miserable for men and horses.  On 4th December, a sudden gale once more flattened much of the canvas, scattered beyond recovery correspondence in office tents, and blew away the treasury notes of a pay parade.  Next day there was rain, hail and frost.

It had been suggested to Lord Kitchener by Colonel Carson, as representative of the Minister of Militia, that the contingent should be moved for training to Egypt, where the Australian and New Zealand Contingents on their way to England had, to avoid duplication of the experiences of the Canadian Contingent, been put under canvas near Cairo.  … Rumours of a possible move to Egypt reached the Canadians on Salisbury Plain and raised visions of dry blankets and cloudless skies, but nothing came of it.  Evidently, if serious sick wastage was to be avoided, the troops must be moved.”   [2]

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Dec 7, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa,
[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, pp. 128-129.


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