‘War Great Sport’ – RMR’s First CO On Recruiting Tour in 1915

Tuesday, July 13, 1915

Reserve Billets – The Piggeries

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Working party supplied of 3 Officers and 150 OR.  Two mines in front of Trench 121 exploded at 9:00 pm.  Battalion ‘Stood to’ from 8:50 pm until 9:45 pm.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “… in the front line, the 13th Battalion had occupied and consolidated the craters of several mines, blown under a position known as “The Bird Cage”.   This German position, situated only ten yards from the Canadian line, derived its name from wire netting which protected its garrison from bombs.  As it had proved a trouble centre during their previous tour in the line, the men of the 14th heard that it had been blown up with a distinct satisfaction, in no way diminished by the fact that they were due to take over the front once more.” [2]

13 July 15The Gazette of Tuesday, July 13th was reporting on a recruiting meeting for the 60th Battalion held in Monreal the previous evening. This was Col. Meighen’s second night back in Montreal and he was immediately taking part in recruitment campaigns.

“A sign was thrown on the screen that Col. F.S. Meighen, who commanded the 14th Battalion (RMR) in France was to follow, and a tremendous cheer went up as he appeared on the stand, which was repeated until Major O’Donohoe called for three cheers for Col. Meighen and the men from Montreal, which were given with genuine enthusiasm.

‘I’m only just home,’ said Col. Meighen, ‘But I have come here tonight to ask you and the people of Montreal to hear the call of your brothers in France for more men.’

‘This is a big fight,’ said Col. Meighen, ‘and it should appeal to your sporting instincts. It is no rest to be fighting. It is really no better than any hockey [game] but the trouble hunting Germans is they are fighting back.’

As an illustration of the manner in which the Canadian troops could adapt themselves to any kind of fighting, Col. Meighen told how they had got next to the trench fighting with periscopes.

‘Our men,’ he said, ‘found that a bullet would penetrate about 40 inches into the ground. It did not take them long to figure this out. When they saw a German periscope stick out from an enemy trench our boys would fire directly in line with it so as to hit the ground in front. When we saw a periscope flop down we knew we had got a German.’

It is a great game, said Col. Meighen. ‘It has baseball, football, and every other kind of game beaten. But no one ever forgets that it is a game of life and death, both for men and for our Empire. Our men there saw that, and I have time and again seen Canadians slightly wounded anxious to get back to the firing line just as soon as the doctors would let them. Men of Montreal, no doctor is holding you back. You are needed at the front, with our other gallant boys. You cannot do better than to go with the 60th – and go now.’” [4]

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, July 13, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089762.jpghttp://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089763.jpg
[2]  R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg.  64.
[3]  “War Great Sport Says Col. Meighen,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Tuesday, July 13, 1915, pg. 5, col. 3.
[4]   Ibid

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