Friday, 21 November 2014

O Canada

I inherited a bound set of The War Illustrated from my paternal grandparents. One hundred years after publication I'm exploring its pages to discover the people and their times.
"Signallers of the 1st Mounted Canadian Highlanders at their camp in England after their journey from Plymouth where they disembarked from their transports. The men are of the best physique th Empire can provide, solid specimens of hard muscles and iron sinew"
A Canadian bicycle battalion poses for the camera at Pond's Farm on Salisbury Plain where they would undertake training for their eventual journey into war.  I can find nothing about a 1st Mounted Canadian Highlanders and think they would be one of the many voluntary militia battalions who formed the 1st Canadian Division expeditionary force that landed in England in 1914.  The conditions in the Autumn of 1914 were of unpleasant cold and rain but as can be seen the War Illustrated has great confidence in their heritage of Scottish and Canadian genes and of course their nickname was the "Scotties".
 Here they are settling into a wet England with a shudder inducing open air water pump but the War Illustrated of the 31st October 1914 seems intrigued by the fatigue caps which would possibly be a more familiar sight in world war two when this Jaeger pattern from "Essentials for the Forces" was published in the 1940s.  
1940s Patterns to Knit from the Victoria and Albert Museum
   The Patricias shown on the left are one of the three regular infantry regiments in Canada who were originally raised in 1914 and arrived in France on 21st December 1914.  The Scottie cyclists would take a similar journey in 1915 and  the 1st Canadian Regiment would later suffer 50% a casualty rate at Ypres.  The nursing sisters of the Red Cross on the right would run rest homes and hospitals in England.
On the outbreak of war Canada had immediately offered 20,000 to 25,000 men of which this page pays tribute, however 630,000 would eventually serve on the 1914-18 battlefields.

"Canadian Command During the First World War" by Tim Cook - The Canadian Encyclopaedia
"Cyclist Battalion in the The Great War" forum - Canada At War
"Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion" by John McKetny - Canadian Cycling Magazine (from which the photo below is taken)  


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