Wooden Huts to Improve Life for RMR’s in 1914

Monday, November 16, 1914

Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Duty Battalion”  [1]

“Bustard Camp, Salisbury, Eng., Nov 16. -The Princess Patricia’s regiment left to-day for Winchester to join a British Division leaving shortly for the front.”

These would be the first Canadian troops to leave England for France to join the battle.

16 Nov 14THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: London, Nov 16.  Wooden winter quarters for the Canadian contingent are rapidly approaching completion at Lark’s Hill. [sic]  Seeing that a frosty-edged wind sweeps over Salisbury Plain almost daily, the members naturally hail with delight the prospect of leaving tents for the more enduring habitations.  Men from the west don’t mind the loneliness, although they say Salisbury Plain beats Calgary for that, and at Lark’s Hill they will be a bit nearer such company as the thatched village of Thams, near Amesbury, can offer.

What they abuse most heartily is the English damp, says the correspondent of The Manchester Guardian, who gives a highly entertaining description of a visit to the camp.  Nevertheless, they are happy under canvas, in spite of a solid month of such dirty weather that they have often worn wet clothes for days.  You cannot mix with Canadians for long without being struck by the passionate loyalty of Canada.  “They all express loyalty, which is part of their love for Britain,” continues this writer.  “I did not find a single soldier who does not intend to return to Canada as soon as the war was over.”

Saturday was a half-holiday in the camp, and noisy baseball games were going on in half a dozen places.  To an English observer the game looked like “a violent form of rounders.”

At Bustard they dread the long, black evenings, and all praise Valcartier, which was lighted from end to end with electricity and fitted with open-air kinematograph shows, and rifle ranges three miles long.  There are the inevitable grumbles about food which arise from human weariness of stew and a yearning for more butter.”  [4]


[1] War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Nov 16, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089676.jpg

[2] William Marchington, Staff Correspondent, “Princess Patricia’s Going to The Front,” The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, November 17, 1914, pg. 1, col. 5. 

[3] “Huts Will Improve Life on Salisbury Plain ; A Frost Edged Wind Makes Soldiers Glad to Forsake The Tents,”  The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, November 17, 1914, pg. 13, col. 5 

[4] Ibid.

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