My Life in the Army.
After much consideration and deliberation
I came to the conclusion that
I should join the army and do my bit
following my inability to join the air
service through certain objections and
also His majesty's Navy through the
inability to go oversees, I had to
sit down and come to a decision as
to which of the branches of the army
I would enter. My decision fell with
the artillery and I trust that what
ever duties are entrusted to me for
fulfillment will be executed with
the degree of efficiency which marked
my undertakings in civilian life. It
will be a radical change of environment,
conditions and companionship
but these should be no difficulty for
me in maintaining a cheerful countenance
in face of any thing. I am to join the
Fifth Regiment, C.S.A Canada's crack
artillery regiment and will report at
my headquarters, Macauley Point, on Feb 1.
1916 [annotation in blue ink]
Feb 1. This is the day which marked
my passing from civilian life into military
life to do whatever my bit for my country
might be. It was a discouraging day to
report. There was two feet of snow on the
ground and a heavy snow-storm raging.
With two other fellows I reported at headquarters
and was fitted out with underwear,
shirts, socks and boots and sworn in, promising
to serve my king and his heirs
faithful in whatever manner I might be
called upon. I was then given a letter to
the O.C at Macaulay Point and told to
report there this afternoon. This enabled me
to get home and have a good dinner the
last I was to get at home for some time.
After lunch I proceeded to report and had
a hard tramp of about two miles to
barracks. It was snowing hard and there
was over two feet of snow without any
trail. With my grip and bundle I had
quite a time but finally reached the
guard house and were given directions
as to where to go. I proceeded to the
bunkhouse and found four or five fellows
there, who gave us a welcome. They told
me I was a damn fool only in stronger language,
for coming in on a day like this.
However I didn't take much notice of it
but proceeded to select a bunk and
get my blankets and settle down. Most
of the men were off on a funeral parade,
one of the sargeants having died from the
'excitement' of this life. It continued to
snow hard all day and it is packing
and drifting high up on bunkhouse. The
bunkhouse is a frame structure about 80 [eighty]
feet long and of the lean-to type. It is
on the corner of 'Piccadilly and Leicester
Square.' When I came in, the place reminded
me of a little burg in the north.
Other side of 'Piccadilly' are the messroom,
office, quartermaster. sargeant's stores
and the canteen. Our quarters are none too
guar [crossed out] good, but then its not a soldier's
place to complain, at least, that is the
way it appears to the recruit. It probably
is better than what they have at
the front and the sooner one gets use to
it the better. Our bunks are arranged in
fours, two uppers and two lowers. I have
selected an upper. You gets the drafts as
Reveille sounded at 4 am
and I tumbled out. Much to my surprise
I had escape the the contraction of a cold.
It was snowing fierce and we were snowed
in. It certainly was a fine initiation
for me. The men who were on the funeral
parade were due in last night, but the
blizzard made it impossible to get in.
Consequently there were only a few of us in
barracks. The quartermaster-sergeant found
that our rations were low and as a
result I only got one slice of bacon for
breakfast, much to the horror of my stomach
and also the poise of my mind. However you
can't pick as no doubt there is a logical
reason for the shortage. We had to keep
roaring fires going to prevent from freezing.
It was with dismay that we noticed
the pile of wood diminish until there
were only a few sticks left. The lieutenant
came around to see how we were getting on
and, when he saw how low our wood
supply was ordered us out to get more
wood. It seemed a cruel order, but it
was simply a question as to whether or
not we wished to freeze during the night.
So we bundled up well and each got a
sack. The weather was abominable and
we could not face it without flinching. But
we had to go so out we went. We had 20
yards to tromp and the walking was
very uncertain. We had to plough our way
through drifts which were over our heads.
When we reached the wood pile we found it
buried under a great drift. We had to
seek shovels and after a hard dig, got
to the wood. The blizzard seemed to increase
in fury and as we headed back to
camp, it nearly cut our faces off. We were encased
in ice when we got back and we were
loathed to go out again but we had to and off
we went. We made two more trips and were
glad to be dismissed. By night our rations
were getting very low indeed and we were told
that in the morning a relief party would
have to go to Work Point to get provisions. This
was a fine night [1 word] to sleep on. The weather
had become so fierce that the guard was
called in. The fort gate was locked and if
anyone wanted to run away with it they were
quite welcomed to it as far as we were concerned.
None of the funeral party has shown
up yet. Lights our at 10.15 pm.
Feb. 3. [third] Turned out at 4 am and the
weather was still cold although the snow
had ceased to fall. I got a Kippert herring
for breakfast. It looked like a worm out
fin back which had seen better days, even
since its death. There was nothing to eat but
bones and those don't go well on an empty
stomach. We were hugging the fire and
listening to the roaring winds when the
orderly sergeant came in and pinched a
party to go to Work Point for rations. Off
we went with a sack apiece. We had to
break a trail and in some places we had
to roll in order to get on. Most of the distance
we went on all-fours. We reached the barracks
O.K. and got our grub, after which we had
to go to a bakery some distnace on to get
40 loaves and then on the a butcher shop to
get our meat supply. It was very hard going
and we finally got back to camp in time
for lunch. In the afternoon, we were set to
work cutting trails around camp so as to
enable us to get about. It was hard
work for me after my office training and
I was jolly glad when we knocked off at
4.15 pm. Our grub was a little better today,
but nothing like home.
Feb. 4th. weather improoing. The sergeant
major got wind that I was a bit of a
photographer and got me to take some snaps
of snow-scenes. I spent the whole morning
at it, which was a cream job compared
with what the others had to do. They had
to move the wood pile. In the afternoon
however, I got back to snow digging and we
were cutting trails around the fort and
barracks so as to permit of [crossed out] a certain
amount of roaming. The three guns are buried
under ten feets [s crossed out] of snow so if the Germans
come they won't meet any opposition. I forgot
to relate a few little things which transpired
two days ago. When the guard was
called in and dismissed a flock of geese
came down on to the plains. One of the
sergeants and two of the men, went off
to get a couple of them. The sergeant got
one and so we were on short rations our
lips started to smack with the prospects of
a change in diet. So we called out:
'that'll come in handy for emergency
rations,' we chorused.
You can imagine our disgust when he
'Emergency rations for [illegible] [crossed out] my family.'
We saw the goose going into the sergeant's
meso[?] and that's the last we saw of it.
The funny part of the thing was that
the guard had to be dismissed to
provide the fellows with cartridges.
We had a great time with Connolly,
a big Irishman, the other night. It was
very cold and he intended to keep warm
so he rounded up 12 blankets. When he
crawled in the fellows thought he might
catch cold so they said:
'Con you'll be cold; we'd better lay some
cigarette-papers on you tonight.' and they
proceeded to do so.
I happened to be in the cook house today
talking with the cook when in popped
the quartermaster-sergeant. He's one of
these little men who patter around at
your heels like a little dog. The cook
always likes to josh him a bit so he
started off on the rations.
'Look here sergeant,' he said bluntly,
'I'm not getting the proper rations.
Were are they going? I believe that you
are taking them home.'
'How dare you say such a thing,'
returned the sargeant. 'You can't prove
'Go on you---old fool, you give
me a pain here,' said the cook pointing
to his stomach.
'You shan't call me that and
you're not to talk to me like that,'
stammered the sargeant.
'But I'm calling you that and
I am talking to you,' responded the cook.
'I shall have you put in the
guard house tonight for your insolence.'
'Ah no you wouldn't sargeant; you
know its too cold up there on a night
'Well then I shall have you up at
office in the morning.'
'Alright. [?]body's worrying.'
'Ah! I haven't time to talk to
boys; you're not a man.'
'Well don't talk to youself, sargeant,'
retorted the cook.
This was too much for the sargeant
and away he went.
Feb 5th Weather very cold and
still no prospects of a thaw. We had to
turn to again to continue shovelling snow.
The army service forps was delivering rations
on sleighs and we had to make a trail
five wide [crossed out] feet wide and nearly half a
mile long for them to get in to us. This
is certainly a poor place to be marooned.
My vaccination started to pain me and
I asked the sargeant to let me off and
he told me to hit for the bunkhouse.
The cook had another [1 word] with the
quartermaster-sargeant today over the
rations. To provide a little fun the cook
grabbed the sargeant and squeezed him
so hard that the sargeant got almost
white in the face. He was raging mad
and threatened violence, which brought
some sarcastic remarks from the cook.
In desperation the sargeant wrenched one
of his arms free and made a swing
from the shoulder. It struck the cook
behind the ear and he very sarcastically
'I believe that the sargeant
'I shall blacken your eye, I shall,
I shall,' feverishly shouted the sargeant.
After having his fun the cook
pushed the sargeant out.
I was successful in getting leave
from 1 pm today until 8:30 am on Monday.
I shall certainly appreciate a visit hom
even though I shall have to walk through
the snow for four miles. But there are
a few good meals in sight and they
count for a lot.
Feb 7th I had to hike back to
barrocks and the going was very hard.
In the afternoon we had to pack cord-wood
up from the beach. The quarer-master-sargeant
won't order cordwood
from town, and we have to cut and
pack it ourselves. This is something I
didn't join the army to do.
Feb 8th The rations are getting
abominable. The slice of bacon for a
man's breakfast and then expect him to
do a day's work on it is pretty poor.
We had to set to cutting cordwood
again and were worked 15 minutes over-time,
which is insulting. Chances for advancement
in this camp are as many as
a hen's teeth. One's ability is as so much
chaff before a prairie wind. Tomorrow
two of our corporals and two of our bombardiers
are leaving to take gunnery instructions.
They won't give a gunner a
chance to take this instructions. [s crossed out] You've got
to have a stripe. To fill the [1 word] [crossed out]
vacancies caused through these n.c.o's
basing seniority is the method employed.
Brains won't get you anything. One of
them is Bill White, who has two legs
which are no more use than a pair of
wooden ones. He has been hanging around here
since the war began and has no intention
of going overseas. A fellow's ambition to
get on in the army can easily be lost in
a joint like this.
Today we were pretty sore at the
treatment we are getting. Cutting cordwood
and shovelling snow, while we realize they
are necessities to a certain extent under
existing circumstances, still we do not
think that all our time should be consumed
in these activities. For men going
oversees we should have the best training
possible to enable us to do our very best.
This cutting cordwood reminds me of my
school-boy-days when I used to cut
work for 45 cents a cord.
We, the poor under-dogs, have no
kick coming over the grub, according to
the offices, but they can kick. When the
grub was taken into the major at lunch
today he raised cane and immediately
fired both cooks. This is what he sent
'The meal's too thick; the gravey's
too thick and I'm not a workingman.'
We all knew he wasn't a working-man.
A good day's work would kill him.
That's the kind of a sod he is.
Feb 9th When we awoke a drizzling
rain was falling. We thought that we would
have a holiday, but at 9.30 we were ordered
to fall in with overcoats as were sent
down to dig out the guns and open up
the steps down to the cartridge and shell
chambers. We have to have every thing
ready for action in case the Germans
show up, but it will be good night if
they do come. We got very wet and when
the cook said that dinner would be
late we were ordered to work until 12.30.
We did get a good meal any way. I
was granted leave from 12.30 until
8.30 am tomorrow.
Feb 10th. Reported in at 8.30 am.
There was a light rain and the snow is
disappearing, thank fortune. The ground
is very soggy so I guess that we will
not get much ourside work today.
This morning the recruits were given
recruit [crossed out] rifle drill, while the old
hands were sent down to pump the guns
a process which has to be done so often to
keep the guns in working order. The air
and liquid pressure which is kept up to
1250 pounds, drops rather quickly and
pumping is necessary. This is the agency
used in lifting the gun. In action it
comes back on to the buffers by the recoil
but in practice we have to pro [crossed out] pump it
down, a tedious job, which needs muscle.
This afternoon we were taken into the
messroom for another spell of rifle drill,
which is quite interesting. So far I
have been successful in escaping guard
duty, but guess I will be getting it soon.
It is no job to look for. Tonight we
started to study artillery work and our
lieutenant came in to assist us in working
out some of the problems. Any fellow
who wants to [1 word] [crossed out] know anything about
artillery has got to make up his mind
to do some hard studying. We had an
indoor shoot tonight. I made 61. The
lights made it hard for me to see the
targets but I'll get on to them soon. This
afternoon we spent some time shooting ducks.
There are plenty of them off the point
Feb 11th Weather fine. Old Sol was
out with a smiling face this morning and it
did us good as we had not seen him for
many days. He serves a two-fold purpose;
firstly, cheering our depressed souls and
spirits and, secondly, as an agency for
melting the snow and saving us the task
of snow-shovelling. We do not hope to
do very much more of that menial work.
At 9.30 am we fell in and had a
lecture on gunnery by Lieut Clearihue.
It gave us an insight into some of the
wonders of this branch of the service.
There is much to learn and if one expects
to get on he must work and study
hard. At 10.30 am. we were ordered out
to do some more snow-shovelling. They
already have a path around the fort,
but the major evidently believes in giving
us plenty of manual work. [1 word] seems
to be little sense in a lot of things
done around here but as one of the
recruits remarked today: 'It's not the
want of sense here; it's the sense of
exercise.' There was little doing this afternoon
or this evening.
Feb 12th Weather fair. I've missed our
lecture in gunnery this morning, it being Saturday
and there being necessary fatigues to carry
out. At 9.30 am we fell in and were sent down
to the beach to cut cordwood for the different
stoves. I was on a crops-cut. Its fine
exercise for the shoulders. We knocked off at
11.40 am and I went on leave until
tomorrow 10 p.m.
Feb 14th (Monday) Reported at 10 pm
last night just in time to make my bed
before Lights Out. Weather misty. Fell in
at 9.30 am. and went to messroom for another
lecture on gunnery. We had the clinometer,
the instrument used in giving the proper
angle of elevation to a gun. [crossed out] quadrant angle to
a gun. We word[?] a few angles and then went
down on to F.1 and had a practical demonstration
of the instrument. We also run up
the gun and had some of its workings
detailed to us. Our guns are of the disappearing
type and are run up by a compound
liquid and air pressure which
acts on a piston. In action the recoil
drives the gun back on to the buffers. In
practice, however, the recoil is lacking and
we have to pump the gun down, a strenuous
exercise. We had to put oil and mineral
jelly on the gun breach and other steel
fittings to keep them from rusting. At
2pm fell in and had rifle and bayonet
drill for two hours. We also had a little
[1 word] signalling to vary the monotony.
I knocked off at 4 pm. We had a shoot tonight
and I did very poorly, getting
Feb 15th. Raining. Today was the
day of days. It was pay day. We fell in
at 10.30 am. and marched to the B.N.A.
banks. We had to remain in line and as our
names were called out we went in and
signed about five papers after which
ceremony we got our money. Mine amounted
to $1500, a most munificent sum. It
put me in mind of my office boy days.
This is the price of patriotism. I hardly
knew what to do with the money, but
there was a confectionery store quite handy
so I started right in to spend it. I
broke one of the bills. There seems to be
little use trying to save. The money seems
to leak out so easily, especially when there is
a canteen. And, if you want to really live
properly you have got to buy extra grub.
On the return march from the bank, Jackson
the devil of the bunch, was leading and I
was next. we were in single file, the officers
in the rear. I told Jackson to step out
and we hit a hard pace. The short-legged
and corpulent officers couldn't
stand it. Presently there came the orders:
'mark time in front.'
The bombadier came up. Hes a
big, fat fellow and was puffing badly.
'Look here! What's the matter with
you young devils? That's not a regimental
pace. Form two deep and dress[?] up with
That was the end of it. I had
to step up with the 'bomby' and there was
no talking. A short of funeral. We got
back to barracks in time for lunch.
We fell in at 2 pm in the
afternoon and were given some rifle and
bayonet drill and then had to dig a path
through the snow on Lampson Street so that
the major could come in. We poor
gunners have to get in and out as best we
could but the major he must have a
Brussels carpet to tread upon. This is
one place wer [crossed out] where all men are not equal.
Had a quiet night.
Feb 16th. Weather fine. Fell in
9.30 am. and were marched to B-1 gun.
A crew was picked and I was made
no.4. My duties were to place a wet sponge
on the mushroom head as soon as the breach
was opened, then hand the shell extractor
to no.3, who extracts the shell. In loading
I rammed[?] home the shell and then doubled
around to the elevating gear to put on the
range. We were just going nicely when the
sargeant-major came along and ordered us to
'cease fire and replace store,' and then fell
in for fatigue work. Its a shame the way
they are treating us. We joined for overseas
and want all the gunnery we can get we
may not use these kind of guns, but still
it familiarizes us with the mechanism
and the construction of guns. Men who
joined the army for a meal ticket and
have no intention of going away and sit
around here and do nothing but kick, are
the ones who should do the fatigue work. But
one has no use to [crossed out] or need to kick, as it does
not do any good. We knocked off at 11.30
am. and did fatigue work all afternoon.
Knocked off at 4 pm. Spent the night as
Feb 17th. Weather fine. Fell in at 9.30 am
and were sent down on to the guns. I was no. 4
again. We were working nicely when the
sargeant-major gave the order to 'cease fire
and replace stores'. The major wanted a
three-foot path dug around the fort so that
he could walk around on the gravel. [1 word]
ridiculous the schemes this man figures
out to frustrate our efforts to get on at
our gunnery. We proceeded to dig paths
galore and I now figure that I am a
full fledged snow-shoveller. Another
couple of days should see the last of
the snow. The major no doubt hopes it will
hold out. We knocked off at 11.30 am for
lunch. Fell in at 2pm with rifles and
side-arms and were having some real
drill when one of the bombadiers came
down and asked for more men to help
fill the mattresses. Somehow or another
the major found a soft spot in his
heart for his men and ordered about 12
bales of straw. Our mattresses are certainly
in fierce shape. The straw has all disappeared
from the parts where you bones[?]
rest. We took our mattresses down to the
pig-stye and dumped the old straw and
then proceeded to cram them full. Of course
everyone was anxious to get his well
filled and in our anxiety we put in too
much. The offices wanted us to go easy
with the straw and I judged from their
comments, that a dozen straw would do
each man. Naturally the men thought
differently. When we put our mattresses in
the bunks, lo and behold, they were
about a foot above the side. The problem
was: How could we sleep on
them without falling off. We were alarmed
for our safety. One of the old stager[?] who
had witnessed similar scenes before
suggested a remedy, which was readily
accepted. He told us to put them on the
floor and tread on them. There was an
animated scene for a couple of hours.
A regular tread-mill. when they were
flattened out a bit we restored them to
their position and they certainly looked a
little better. But we were wary about going
to bed, especially those in the upper
bunks. However, we tucked our blankets
in well so that there was little chance
of coming out unexpectedly. There was
little sleep and plenty of groaning. The
boys got into various positions, and
many prayers were offered for safe deliverance.
This has indeed been a day of
unique occurences. Tonight we were the
victims of circumstances. Our lieutenant
is to deliver an address in town next
week on 'British and German Ideals,'
and he decided to rehearse it on us.
We had our regular shoot prior to the
lecture at which I made 80. At 8 o'clock
we assembled in the messroom to hear our
dear friend's oration. Some of the fellows
were nearly asleep. It was a delightful
Feb 18th. Weather beautiful. The
whole of the morning was consumed in
squad drill. After lunch I was sent to
help clean up the 14-lb gun which was required
for a funeral. After that I reported
to the captain of B-1 and had some gunnery
instruction. We had another spell of
squad drill afterwards. This was the
hardest day's work we have had; plenty
of hard and fast work. The fellows are
getting anxious to hear about the proposed
draft which we expect would be formed
before this. At 4 pm. we were granted
leave until midnight to see the ammunition
column away. We got back to barracks
at 11.45 pm and were very tired.
Feb. 19th. Weather fine. Awoke
very tired and would have given a good
deal for an extra hour; but we're in the
arm now. This is saturday, 'fatigue day,'
so we had to do chores for the good of
our country. I was assigned to assist in
cleaning the bunkhouse. It was in some
mess and we had to pull out the bunks
and sweep every thing clean. All kinds of
things tumbled down when we pulled
away the bunks. A dozen eggs in a bag
went crashing to the floor, making a
frightening mess. We got through at 11.30am
I put in for leave from 1 pm to 10.30 pm.
Sunday, but when the list was read out
found out to my disgust that I could
not get out until 5.30pm. I was [1 word] I
would not hang around the bunkhouse
and bought a box of shells and secured
a rifle and went duck shooting. Three
other equally-unfortunate pals went along
with me for company and to have plenty
of space to wreck in words the character
of the major. We popped at everything that
shoved its head above the water and
got six ducks. At 5.30 I hit the trail
for home. I went off feeling somewhat
happy as I had the most 'sumptuous'
repast I have had out here as yet. We
had pork and beef and potatoes, then
prunes, cake, jam and cheese. It was
Feb 21st. Weather fine. Fell in at
9.30 am and were put through a lot
more squad drill, varied with a little
sentry posting. This afternoon we had a
gunnery lecture, when the Clinometer
was again explained to us. We then had
gun drill, after which we were ordered to
the messroom to have a lecture in telegraphy
and also carry on with some
This evening the detachment was
called into assemblage in the mess room
by the major to arrange for socials and
sports for the coming months. We're going
to blow ourselves on a whist drive,
a smoker and concert and will have
all kinds of sports. I was elected
secretary of both committees-social
Feb 22nd. Weather fine. Fell in
at 9.30 am and the detachment was told
off into three gun teams one for each of the
six-inch guns. I was placed on A-1 and
we received orders from the Battery Commanders
to fire 10 rounds. Our team
worked fairly smooth and we tore off
the rounds in smart order. We were then
ordered back to barracks and got our
rifles and bayonets and were given squad
The weather is getting good and
we are able to devote a lot of our spare
time to sports. We are playing football
and even getting our arms in shape for baseball.
At lunch hour today we had a strenuous
work-out at soccer and smashed
two windows with the balls. This will
take some explaining to our zealous
This afternoon we had a kit inspection
by the major. We had to have
everything spick and span and we were
taken aback when we got orders to put
everything, even our underclothes, on to the
wet, dirty boards. The officers checked our
accoutrement and then went through the
bunkhouse to see if we were concealing
any government dry goods. They looked under
the mattresses and hauled out a lot of
stuff. Every fellow who had more than four
blankets lost his superfluity. I guess
we'll all shiver tonight as some of the
blankets are like sheets. There is
plenty of kicking tonight. However, kicking
is a soldiers priviledge. Revenge is
being sworn on the quartermaster-sargeant.
He left me with four miserable
old blankets, which wouldn't even
give a flea cover, I asked him to
exchange one of them for a good one but he
said that he didn't have any. I went
to the major and complained and he
ordered the quartermaster-sargeant to
change my blanket. He jolly soon found
one. This evening we had an interesting
lecture on trigonometry by our lieutenant.
We also had a shoot and I made
Feb 23rd. Weather fine. We were
put through some hard drilling this morning
and at 11.30 am. welcomed the cessation
of our day's work. I got leave from
1pm to 8.30am. tomorrow.
Feb 24th. Weather fine. Reported
in at 8.30 am. Had a fine spell of gunnery
drill this morning and a [1 word] old
afternoon at squad drill.
At 6pm. we [crossed out] I had to fall in
for guard duty. This was my first turn
on this kind of duty. We [crossed out] There are three
men to a guard and a guard [crossed out] corporal.
We relieved the old guard at 6 pm and
our no.1 was then posted. I was no.2 and
was posted from 8-10 and from 2-4
and during the same hours in the day.
No. 3 relieved me. It is a tiresome job, but
no doubt of good training. Of course a
new man takes his job seriously and you
think that the whole fort depends upon
you; and quite rightly to, but the old-timers
say that we will get over that.
They usually spend their shifts after
midnight in the officers-mess before a
blazing fire. They tell the story of one
gunner who slept in the major's bed and
not satisfied with that cleaned out
the pantry of six pies. A new man
is alway on the alert and suffers a
little from [illegible] [crossed out] nervousness. Every object
looks like some one creeping up on you and
just as you are pondering, a cat or
dog will spring down the bank and give
you a startle which will send the
shivers up your back. A tree will look
like a warship and the hoods of the guns
seem to rise up and down. Everything is
unnatural. When you make your hourly trip
around the fort your imagination has full
play. At every turn you see a strange army
bobbing up and down. We carry these shells
in our magazines and our bayonets fixed
so that if we did not lose our heads when
a spy or a German crook appears, we could
give him a good time. I suppose that in
time when the novelty of guard wears off
I will dall a victim to the short-coming
of sleeping in the magazines, on the benches
in the fort, in the officers' mess, or on the
Feb 25th. Weather fine. Filled in
my shifts on guard and did some writing.
Came off guard at 6pm. We had our first
Whist Drive and after coming off guard I
had to hand around to see that everything
was ready. I was anxious to get into
town to attend the camp reunion. I
finally got away at 7pm. After guard
we are given 28 hours leave to make up
for the sleep we lose in guard work.
Feb 27th. Reported in last night
at 10 o'clock and rolled in at once. This
is the first Sunday that I have been forced
to spend in barracks. At breakfast this
morning we saw eggs for the first time
and probably the last. It was a great
surprise to us and we carved the near-making
of a chicken with great dexterity
so as not to lose any. Sunday is very
monotonous in camp and [crossed out] as there are very
few fellows in, but we managed to pass
the day on the beach, toasting in the
sun and shooting and fishing. We had
good meals at lunch and supper so
that is a little compensation for staying
Feb 28th. Weather fine. Fell in at
9.30am in gun teams. I was made gunlayer
on A-1. It is his duty to lat the gun
on the target and when he has it on fires
by turning the battery key. The detachment
was called to the rear and we were ordered
into 'action' with the warning that
we would have 'casualties', thereby giving
the spares a chance to work in. I was the
first to go. The gun-group commander
called our 'gun-layer killed'. I had to
double to the rear. The gun-layer is in a
very exposed position, he having to push [crossed out]
place half of his body through a man-hold
and lay through the telescope's sight.
Then I worked into no. 4. After that we
had a lecture on 'Cordite' by lieut. Clearihue.
During the lunch hour there was a
heated argument in the bunkhouse on
'what is a Canadian?' There are quite a
number of Canadians here and there is
also a large settlement of English.
'A Canadian is a Siwash,' said
This brought forth a violent
retort from the Canucks and almost
resulted in blows. Although the English
have the preponderance of strength none
of the husky native sons here would bow
to this verdict.
You Englishmen have to come out
here to find out what money is like and
then you do nothing but run down the place,'
'Look at your native Chinese;
They're Canadians too,' said Carter.
'Go on you old flat-footed
knock-kneed nut, you're 35 years old and
can't write your name. You're of little use
to this world and you're scared to go to
the front, all you joined for is a meal-ticket.
We got nothing against the Englishmen,
but we hate to hear you [illegible] [crossed out]
illiterate bums come out here and kick
like you do. If you're not careful we'll go
to the mat with you and see who's the
best men,' was a Canuck's oration.
'Uh! You're the biggest grafter
that ever breathed,' said another Englishman,.
'And who'd we graft off? You
sleepy Englishmen. You're too slow to see
through it,' was the hot reply.
Things were getting very warm by
this time and the bugle to fall in just
sounded in time to save trouble.
Owing to the keen wind we did
not have our regular instruction. We were
ordered to get our rifles and fall in with
our serges on. We soon learned that we
were to go on a route march. This is the
first one I have been on and it is quite
a change. We went to the Esquimalt dockyard.
We marched at ease and sang and
whistled. We didn't miss any smiles from
the sidewalks. We piled arms at the
dockyard and broke-off for half an hour.
I went aboard one of the ships there and
I had a pleasant time with some of the
men I knew and had a cup of chocolate
and a piece of pumpkin pie. It went
down fine and I was feeling fine for the
[illegible] [crossed out] march home. We got back by 4pm. We
met a pretty little girl on the way home
and she took quite an interest in us.
But we couldn't fall out. I got leave
at 4pm to try and raise some 'smoke'
for our smoke on Friday night. I reported
in at 10pm.
Feb 29th. Weather cold. When
we fell in at 9.30am. two gun teams were
picked and I was ordered to fall in with
B-1. We fired a number of shots and
were then marched to the messroom, where we
were given instruction in signalling, with
particular attention to the Morse Code. At
10.30 we fell in in full dress for pay parade.
There are very few red letter days in a
soldier's life. There are at least two every
month and they are the pay days. Or the
morning of a pay parade the soldier
is very jubilant as he is empty of pocket,
but light of heart at the prospect of
a good time. for a short time. When you
get back to barracks you usually find
a fat canteen bill staring you in the face
and that starts th beginning of the end
of your 'salary'.
This afternoon we were taken out on
the plains for drill by the major, which we
call 'being razzled by the major'. He certainly
did give us a hammering and when
we returned at 4 o'clock, we had very little
This evening we had a lecture on
trigonemetry by Mr.Clearihue.
March 1st. This commences my second
month as a soldier. I trust that it is
better than the last one. Weather fine. Our
programme has been altered slightly. In
the past, [illegible] [crossed out] 'Reveille' has sounded at 7am;
breakfast at 7.45am.; parade for inspection
at 8.30am; parade for drill 9.30am.;
knock off at 11.30am; lunch at noon; parade
for drill at 2pm; knock off at 4pm;
supper at 5pm, and 'lights out' at 10.15pm.
In future we will arise half an hour earlier
and have 'physical jerks' for 30 minutes.
As compensation for the early rising we will
knock off at 3.30 o'clock instead of 4.
At 9.30am. we fell in and were
taken down to the gun practice and we put
in two solid hours. It was the most
interesting morning I have put in so far
in barracks. We had battery fire and you
fire and then gun drill with casualties.
I was made gun captain when the G.C.
was killed. It was a test as to whether
or not I had paid attention during drill.
I was pur over snior men. The casualties
became very heavy and I was finally
left with only two men to work the gun.
When I reported to the Gun Group Commander
'Ammunition Expended Sir,' I
was sweating like a leaky wash-tub. I
was then ordered to pick a gun team and
carry on with standing gun fire. We got
off four rounds when the casualties started
to come. After a time I was left with
only two men and we could have collapsed
when ordered to 'stand fast'. In the
afternoon I got leave from 1-5.30 o'clock
as I had to go on guard at 6 pm.
mounted guard at 6pm. and had a
[illegible] [crossed out] quiet night.
March 2nd. On guard and missed
the physical jerks. Came off guard
at 6 pm but did not go on leave as
the major wanted every man in for kit
March 3rd. Weather good. Physical jerks.
At 9.30am we were put on the guar [crossed out] guns and
had a hard drill. In the afternoon we had our
kit inspection, after which we had some
further gun drill. At 3.30 o'clock we had a
lecture in trigonometry by Mr.Clearihue. At
4.30 o'clock we had our great smoke. I
succeeded in getting two boxes of cigars,
one from the Liberals and another from the
Conservatives as well as considerable other
smokes, soft drinks and fruits. I played card
with the major. I went on leave at 10.30pm
taking my guard leave which had been
postponed. I saw the medical corp boys off
for England at 11.45pm.
March 5th. Reported for duty at 10am
(Sunday) and lay around barrocks all day.
Its miserable to be loafing about here on
We had a new lieutenant in today
Lieut.Prior, the son of a prominent Conservative.
The officers orderly came to tell us what
a fine fellow he was and about the chat
he'd had with him. Yesterday was election
day and resulted in an overwhelming
majority for the Liberals. The lieutenant
asked him how he (the orderly) liked the
election and he said: 'why it suited me
alright.' The officer gave him a dry look
and then went on to something else but
the orderly did not suspect anything wrong.
Then he came to have a yarn with us and
told us about the conversation.
'Why you'd better be careful,'
said Tanner[?], 'Don't you know he's a Conservative?'
'Why who got in any any way? asked
'Well you ---- fool a Liberal, you
There was a great deal of
hilarity as a result.
March 6th. Weather wet. No
physical jerks. Too wet for infantry or gun
drill. Fell in at 9.30 and were marched to
the messroom, where we had a lecture on
'Tubes and Fuses,' after which we spent
some time learning the semaphore and
In the afternoon we were formed
into gun teams and marched to the guns
We got off five rounds and then got orders to
'cease fire and replace stores'. The gun drill
we get is certainly of an amusing, yet at
the same time disheartening, character
The officers just seem to turn us on to the
guns now to see that none of the stores
have been stolen overnight and to grease
and oil them. There is no system to the
way things are run around here.
A case of measles has broken out in
camp. One of the fellow left yesterday and
after some inexcusable negligence on the
part of the medical doctor he was placed
in the isolation hospital. We were informed
at noon today that he had real
measles and we are now pondering over our
fate. It is possible that we will be
quarantined for ten days or two weeks.
It will be worse than the 'Black Hole of
Calcutta' if we are.
We are now only allowed two leaves
a week, amounting to 42 hours. Our guard
leave has been stopped; also our week-end
leave. We have named our domicile 'The
Macaulay Detention Camp.' We all are
anxious to get into the overseas.
We had a gunnery lecture this
afternoon. Spent the night studying.
March 7th. Weather very wet. No
physical jerks. We had a rifle examination
this morning. This afternoon we had some
further semaphore and Morse Code work.
At 6pm. mounted guard. I had the first shift
and it rained hard and I was wet through
when relieved at 8pm. It continuted to rain
hard throughout the night and as the sentry box
was exposed to the full sweep of the
wind and rain I took full advantage of
the major's absence in the second shift, and
stood in recess of his sleeping quarters. It
was a dirty night and I don't wish another
for some little time at any rate.
March 8th. Weather very wet. Guard
duty very irksome, tideous and cold. There
was nearly a riot in camp at noon today,
over the granting of leave and it was
brought about through the poor foresight
of the officers in charge. A new schedule
of leave was inaugurated last week and
the major said that the men could have
two leaves out of three; either from Wednesday
noon to Thursday 8.30am; noon
on Saturday to 10am Sunday or from 10am
Sunday to 8.30am on Monday, but the side[?]
was added that no one could have the
week-end and at all-times there must
be 14 men in camp. As a consequence all
the men paraded for leave today, as being
unable to have only part of the week-end
they wanted the Wednesday. The major asked
for volunteers to stay in, but not a man
stepped out so he counted out twelve and
they were very sore. So one could not [inserted] blame
them for being so desperate as it was very
dirty. I came off guard at 6pm.
They caught on to one of the fellows
who has been asking for leave every day. On
Friday last he asked the major if he could
have the day off to help his mother move.
On Monday he asked the sargeant-major
and gave him the same reason and yesterday he
requested leave again for the same purpose.
Today he went up to the major and
wanted the day off to complete the moving,
but the major became suspicious and in
speaking to the other officers learned that
the fellow had been out for the last few
days. He called him up and the fellow
admitted that he had no mother and had
been having a good time when he was out.
March 9th. Weather wet. No physical
jerks. Had a lecture on the rifle by Sargt-major
McDongall[?] this morning and it
was quite interesting. He instructed us in
the case of the rifle, but the things we
have issued to us are no worthy of care.
We had a spell of infantry drill. The
afternoon was spent at infantry drill.
March 10th. Weather improving.
Physical jerks. At 9.30am we fell in in [crossed out]
gun teams and were doubled to our guns.
Our gun team went through its work very
smartly and was commended for its work.
I am no.3, one of the hardest positions.
After this we were put to work on the
gravel pit, taking gravel down to the
new tennis court, which the major is having
made for his personal benefit. This is
considered the limit. He is said to draw
$400 [four dollars] a day [inserted] and what he does for it we don't
know. He's out half the time. Whenever he
wants some work done at home he sends a
man from camp. He got me of the fellows
here to paint his Ford and gave him
50 cents to pay a 40-cent bill and told him to
keep the change. That's all he got out of it.
This afternoon we had our regular
razzling by the major on the plains.
Tonight we had a 'whist drive' and
the major won the prize.
March 11th. Weather fine. Had [illegible] [crossed out] usual
Saturday swimming parade to the 'Armories'
and I was sent along as policeman to see
that the fellows behaved themselves. At
12.30pm I went on guard until 8.30am.
March 13th. Weather cool. Physical
jerks. We didn't move fast enough to keep
warm and were freezing when we were dismissed.
At 9.30am. we fell in in gun teams
and had some instructive work. The beaches
were taken apart. In the Afternoon we went
back on the guns to give them a good
March 14th. Weather f???. Fell in at
9.30 am with the anticipation of going on
the guns, but were greatly disappointed. We
were nestled[?] off to roll the tennis court.
One team had to go in the gravel pits, another
wheeling gravel and a third on the roller.
Luckily I was put as guider for the roller
and escaped the strenuous work, while the
others sweated and swore. They were all
greatly peeved as when one joins the army
to do his bit, it hurts to be put rolling a
tennis court. This afternoon we had infantry
drill on the plains.
March 15th Weather fine. Physical
jerks. We put in an hour on the guns and
then fell in in blues for pay parade. I got
another $15.00. We returned to camp for lunch
and went on leave from 1 pm to 5:30 pm. Our
guard was mounted at 6 pm and I was
supposed to have no 2, but as no 1 was
under the influence of liquor I changed
places with him. We had a fine night for
March 16th. Weather fine. Being on
guard I missed physical jerks. Nothing
exciting happened last night.
This afternoon I witnessed the
greatest scene of jubilation [word?] I came
in. The officers came around for the names
of all men who are going overseas. with the
artillery brigade. This is what we have
been waiting for for a long time and of
course I handed in my name. There were prolonged
cheers at the prospects of getting out of
this hole. Another event of importance occurred
this afternoon. The colonel came over to inspect
us and he condemned our famous uniform-
blue with red trimmings. It looked as though
this regiment will be placed in khaki very soon.
I came off guard at 6pm. We had a shoot
tonight and I made 94 points. I went off to
a party at 4pm and had leave until midnight.
March 17th Weather fine. Physical
jerks. Guard orderly for the day. Ordinary
drills today. We are all anxious to learn something
about the lottery, but details are very
March 18th. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. This is Saturday and fatigue day. With
another fellow I had to clean up the three guns.
I got leave from 12.30 pm until 8.30 am on Monday.
March 20th. Weather fine. Strong wind.
Reported in at 8.30am. Filled in the morning
doing rifle drill In the afternoon the overseas
men were called out and divided into two
sections. One was sent on to the six-gu [crossed out] inch
guns and the other on to the 12-pounder. At
half time the sections changed over.
March 21st. Weather wet. Physical
jerks. Rifle drill this morning and another taste
of it this afternoon. Had a lecture in
field gunnery at 3.30 pm.
March 22nd. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. Owing to the heavy meat[?] diet, boiles have
broken out in camp. One fellow, [Ferlke?], is having
an awful time and other fellows are getting a
good dose of them. He bather his boiles last
night and left his water on a seat which
runs around the stove. This morning Jeff
went to sit down and sat in the pan. The
water wet his seat and flowed into his boots.
The fellows at once started to josh him
about his prospects for a nice family
of boiles. One said,
'Jeff sat in the water that just
came off the boil and it was ice cold.'
Every time a fellow gets a pimple
the rest diagnosis it and tell him that it
is coming on nicely and other very sympathetic
'Oh! That's coming on fine.'
'You'll have a beauty'
Had infantry drill this morning
and knocked off at 11.30am. I got leave
from noon till 8.30 am tomorrow. but remained
in for the afternoon to play soccer.
We had a game with Rod Hill and won
2-1. It was a hard game. I played fullback.
March 23rd. Reported in at 8.30am.
We were on the guns all morning and had a
fine work-out. Our gun team is getting on
This afternoon we were out on our
rifle range-500 yards-for the first time.
We used our own rifles and as no one knew
how they shot the scores were very low. I made
4 out of 25. At 6 pm I went on guard and
shot on the miniature range, making 93.
It was a cold night and I was no.3, and
one had to keep on the move to keep warm.
March 24th. Weather cold. No physical
jerks. Nothing important transpired. Dismissed
from guard at 6pm. Had a big
smoker tonight and did not get to bed until
11.15pm. It is interesting to see the crowd around
the tables smoking and playing cards, with an
inspiring bottle of 'pop' by their side.
March 25th Weather fine. Physical
jerks. This was fatigue day. Got leave from
11.30am till 10am tomorrow.
March 26th. Reported in at 10am.
It was a fine day and I wished that I
was home. Went shooting ducks to pass away
the time. Just as we had finished supper
for a call that a yacht with two men
ashore [crossed out] aboard, [added in pen] had blown ashore in the heavy gale. We
went down to her and after some hard and
dangerous life-saving work for the boat
off. We returned to the bunkhouse at dark.
March 27th. Wethaer fine. Physical
jerks. I was picked for a recruit squad
to perform for the moores[?]. We are supposed
to have the finest recruits that have ever
been sworn in here and they are anxious to
have us photographed. This morning we were
given an idea of the work we are to do
and it is evident that we are in for some
This afternoon we were on the
range and I made 15, which was a good
improvement. On the miniature range I
March 28th. We had a hard
razzling from 9.30 to 11.30 am and from
2 to 3.30pm. Our sergeant-major is whipping us
into shape for the movie[?]. The major looked us over
today and made some very complimentary remarks.
March 29th. Physical jerks. We were
rustled through our movie'[?] drill all morning.
I got leave from 12.30pm to 8.30am tomorrow.
March 30th. Physical jerks. Despite
our heavy work in the day we still have to
roll out at 6.30am for our 'physics.' We had
gun drill this morning and were ordered to
leave all stores on the guns. This made us
suspicious of a night alarm. This afternoon
we got another dose of [word?] drill
and the colonel cast his eagle eye over us, but
he was only able to speak in the most glowing
terms of our work.
When time came for rolling in we
were afraid to go to sleep owing to the shadow
of a night alarm. Many of the fellows turned in
in their clothes and those who didn't placed
everything good and handy. Some of us dropped
off and it was with a startle that the
alarm brought us up on to our haunches
half awake. The alarm sounded like a
huge alarm clock-a Big Ben. In a sh [crossed out]
sort of dazzled condition we crawled,
or, to be more correct, literally slid into our
clothes. Bill Creach, who sleeps next to me,
put his clothes next to mine and in the
darkness I grabbed his clothes. When I
found out my mistake I dropped them at
once as I didn't have time to put them back.
They fell on Bill Newton, right below.
Creach had to rush to g [crossed out] the guns in
his pyjamas. I finally was ready to make
the dash to the guns. I slipped over the
end of my bunk and was fortunate in
not dropping on anyone. The lights were
all out and it was difficult to see,
where we were going.
One of the first fellows to get
out pulled a mattresse out of one of
the end bunk and deposited in in the
centre of the bunkhouse. Every succeeding
fellow tripped over it and skinned his
knees, elbows and hands. There was plenty
of cursing. The air was blue, if such a
thing is possible.
A scotchman had a terrible
time getting out. He got into his trousers
the wrong way and did not have time to
change. He had a terrible time
trying to keep his lower-coverings in position.
Another of the fellows who had a hunch
that the alarm was coming off decided
to remain up. He sat on one of the stools,
but when 11 o'clock came he came to the
conclusion that there would be no alarm
and took all his clothes off. Just as he
pulled the blankets over him he was surprised
to hear the alarm and had to
turn out. Some more cursing!
After many humorous incidents
the men were all at their positions on
the guns. This all occurred in two minutes.
Our gun A-1 was the first to
report 'bore clear and ready to load' and
fired a tube.
For 20 minutes we were kept standing
in the cold shivering like leaves. It
turned out that the men on the 'Depression
Range Finder' did not know their work and
were 19 minutes getting it into action.
We were lined up at midnight
for roll call to see that every fellow was in-
if there was one out he got 10 days. C.B.
The major said that he had no
fault to find with the gun teams, but the
exhibition of the D.R.F. was the worst in
the history of the fort. The major was
very angry and when he dismissed us
we were afraid that he would give us
another alarm, but his good nature
evidently prevailed and he turned in
March 31st We were given another
razzling this morning in preparation for the
movie.[?] In the afternoon we are [crossed out] again were
razzled. We have as our repertoire 'piled armed'
doubling marching, knees up, knees bend with arms,
lunging, 'present arms', saluting and
I went on guard at 6 pm and
all the boys were expecting another alarm
tonight, but through good fortune the major
went out and we were all able to have
a good sleep.
April 1st. Weather fine. Being on
guard I escaped the fatigue today/Saturday
It was very anoying to have to be
on guard on such a fine afternoon. I
came off at 6pm. and went on leave until
10pm on Sunday. No April Fool Joke of
any note occurred today.
April 2nd. Reported in at 10.30pm and
just had time to make bed before the orderly-
sergeant came in to put out the lights.
April 3rd Weather fine. Physical jerks.
Both this morning and this afternoon we had
our drill to finish us off for the movie.[?] We
were expecting to have our pictures taken today.
April 4th. Weather fine. Physical jerks.
We were informed this morning that the
major could not make satisfactory arrangements
with the mooie[?]-men and that the
pictures were off. This was discouraging
to us after the pains we had taken and
our anticipation of appearing in the movie.
In preparation for our new work
and drill on the plain when in the brigade,
our lieutenant gave us 'dismounted drill'
this morning, after which we were taken
out for swamphose work.
This afternoon we had our pictures
taken by the major as compensation for
our hard work for the movie.[?] Following
this we were ordered to fall in with rifles
and went on a short route march.
April 5th. Weather fine Physical jerks.
Had another spell at dismounted drill this
morning and also some swamphose work At
12.30pm. I went on leave until 8.30 am tomorrow.
April 6th: Weather fine. Physical jerks.
All the overseas men are in fine spirits at
the prospects of getting into the overseas
unit very shortly. We expect to be ordered out
very soon, probably the first of next week.
We cannot get much information, but a little
leak through once and awhile.
This morning we had some work on
the guns and it was a joke, we had an
Irishman in charge of us and it was a
brilliant burlesque. It was the funniest
drill we have had since I joined.
This afternoon we had dismounted
drill and are getting along pretty well.
April 7th. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. At 9.30 am we fell in with rifle
for the first time in a month. We were taken
on to the campus and instructed in
rifle-firing, both standing and lying. At
10 am ten of us were ordered to go on to the
plains, for what we knew not. On reporting
we found a truck-load of tent-bottoms
waiting to be unloaded. We pitched into
the work with a will. We then knew that work
was to start on the mobolization of our
new artillery unit. A truck load of tents,
peg and blankets then arrived. We knocked
off at 12.30 and fell in again at 1.15 and
were ordered out on to the plains to pitch
the tents. While most of us had had some
experience before at pitching tents, none of
us had pitched the bell tents. After a
little instruction we set to and after aligning
the tent floors set [crossed out] put up the tents, 55
all told.[?] When we knocked off at 4 pm we
were all very tired and hungry.
Tonight we had our farewell
smoker in the mess room. We had a
number of cakes left in the town and I
had to get in town to get them after work
and it also served as a subterfuge to
get a fine supper. I had to take four
men in to carry the cakes and they all wanted
to go and as the grub has been 'rotten'
for a couple of days and the men are
ravenously hungry. We each got a beef
steak and an apple pie, crowned with
whipped cream, so that our stomachs were
[illegible crossed out] bulging when we got up from the table.
Our smoker was a great success. We
got into bed at 11.15 pm and we were
expecting a night alarm so turned in in
April 8th. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. Fatigue day. Went on leave from
12.30 pm till 10 am tomorrow. I should have
gone on guard at 6 pm, but got another
fellow to take my place as I wanted
to play basketball.
April 9th. Weather wet. Relieved
my guard substitute at 10 am. Miserable
hours off duty. Came off guard at 6 pm.
There were only three gunners in camp tonight
and we would have had a fine
time if we were ordered to man the
One of the guards came on
duty last night under the influence
of liquor and it is a wonder that
he was allowed to go on. He had no 2
shift and was posted at 8 pm. The
lieutenant had a talk with him
and found that he was under the
weather, but being a friend of his
did not report him. The sentry saw a dog
in the wire entanglements and went at
him with his bayonet. He got tangled
up with the barb-wire and ripped his
overcoat to pieces. He was 15 minutes freeing
himself when he came off shift he
hung his belt and scabbard 'on the floor
so that it couldn't fall down'. He then
went to stoke up and opened the door of
the stove by number[?], in a similar manner
by which our drills are done. He did the
same thing in turning on the tap. Contrary
to regulation he brought in a
'mickie' with him and despite the good
intentions of the corporal he would
have a drink and induced the officer to
have one with him. It was a terrible state
of affairs. The sentry went on his second
shift at 2 am and when the time came
to relieve him at 4 am the sentry found the
gate locked and no one about, but a
bright light in the major's quarters. He
could get no response to his calls and went
back to the guard-house. Half an hour later
with another of the guard he returned and found
conditions the same. They managed to force
the gate, but were on their toes all the time
as they were afraid that the noise would
cause him to stir and probably shoot. They
got into the major's quarters and found
him sound asleep in the major's bed with
his rifle beside him and the lamp blazing
forth in great splendor. They awoke him
and he said: 'I'm alright. What's the
matter with you?' He went back to the
bunk house and wouldn't go to sleep. He
was calling to the gun teams to fall in
and number off and get into action. It
was a fierce orgy.
April 10th. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. At 9.30 am fell in for dismounted
drill and some of us were called out to
take charge of the squad and put them
through the drill. In the afternoon we
were on the plains getting the camp into
This evening we were all in the
bunkhouse and had a hunch that we were
going to have a night alarm. In order
to find out definitely four of the fellows
got a table and called on the spirit
'Are you there?' asked one.
The table bumped three times which meant
'no' [crossed out] 'yes'
'are we going to have a night alarm?'
It knocked once which meant 'no'.
They went on asking a great many other
questions, but most of us were contented and
retired with a feeling of security and all
abscence of fear of crawling out at midnight:
The orderly-sargeant after calling the roll
and turning out the lights at 10.15 pm
went home. Everyone was snoring like fog
horns when at 11.30 pm the night alarm
sounded. The fellows awoke and most of
them sat still in bed unable to make out
what the noise was. Some thought it was
the phone. But a few seconds soon told
them what was wrong. Everyone was completely
undressed and did not know where his
clothes were as they had taken no precautions.
There were few amusing scenes, as all were
too sleepy to take notice of anything. We
got on to the guns and everything was in
order in four minutes.
When we got back to the bunkhouse
we commenced to call down the spirit
and came to the conclusion that it was
a German spirit which has slipped something
over us. It was an angry crowd
which pulled the blankets over them at
April 11th Weather fine. Physical
jerks. At 9.30 am. fell in in gun teams and
worked for an hour. We then went on to the
plains to peg down the tents. This afternoon
we spent our time on the plains.
The officers' orderly, a young man
with much corpulence at the waist-line and
considerable of a 'joke' with the men here,
went out tonight to see his 'jane.' We
thought we would 'get his goat.' He was
due in at midnight, and had made his bed
before going out. We put a large cord-stick
and two empty bottles in his place
At midnight he came in and
undressed without a word. Then he proceeded
to crawl in. The first thing he
stabbed his toes on the wood. He caught
on to the joke and there was a blueish
atmosphere; then an awful noise. The
cord-stick was hurled through space
and fetched up on a bunk with a
terrible clash. Then the bottles smashed against
the rifle-rack. After a few minutes of
brilliance the midnight spectacle flashed
April 12th. Weather fine. Physical
jerks. Before falling in for parade we
that is the men from Macaulay, who
are going overseas, had their picture
taken. We were sent out on to the plains
to carry out some necessary work. I think
this will be our last day as members
of the 'gallant Fifth', Went on leave
this Afternoon until tomorrow morning
April 13th(Thursday) Weather fine:
physical jerks. We again assembled on
the plains to carry out some work.
We were trying our luck at shooting
clay pigeons at lunch hour and I
succeeded in getting two out of six
shots. It was a new style of shooting.
We were notified this morning that we
had been struck off the strength of the
'Fifth Regiment' and we were greatly elated.
We at once struck for overseas leave and
got it. Tomorrow we will be sworn in
and given a taste of real army
life. We are to spend one last night in
the bunkhouse. With a bunch of the
boys I went up-town and took in a
show. The boys were all feeling highly
pleased, but they did not indulge to
a [crossed out] excess in exhilarating beverages. We
got in at midnight and raised cane.
April 14th We did not have
to fall in for physical jerks this morning,
but were ordered to be at 'stables'
at 6.30. Sixty-one horses were brought
in last night and we had to get up and
groom, water and feed them. It was a
fine occupation and it was interesting
to see some of the boys-the nervous ones-
edging their way down towards the hind
hoofs. There were some frisky old horses
and more than one fellow saw something
not in the form of a cushion-drive
past his head in an outward and
upward direction. Each man had two
horses to clean and I pinched two that
were fairly quiet. After cleaning we had
to take our teams to the trough and
then feed them. We first get two nose
bags with the oat-allowance and on
the command 'Feed up' from the farrier-
sargeant we strap the nose-bags on. The
horses get very impatient if they are kept
waiting and come near lifting the rails.
They are quartered in a nearby field
in the open and save for a blanket they
spend the night under the clear skies.
This morning we had our first meal
in our new home and it was a treat.
This is like paradise after the miserable
grub we have been receiving at
Fort Macaulay. At 10 am. we fell in
for pay parade and drew $13.20 the last
we will draw from the Fifth Regiment.
This afternoon we were marched
to Work Point and sworn in for overseas
service. It was a simple proceedure,
but we are into something, out of which
we will not get for some time, according
to the present outlook.
We have severed all connection
with Fort Macaulay and tonight we go
under canvas. We have been issued with
three blankets and as the blankets have not
arrived we will have to retired on the
boards. I am in a tent with seven
others-all fine chaps and we should
agree admirably. It was quite an eventful
and the night gives promise of
being equally as eventful.
April 15th. 'Some night' is the
correct description of last night [illegible] [crossed out] under
canvas. My bones, especially my hips,
are stiff and sore this morning. Those
boards, those awful boards, gave us
some interesting memoirs. We turned in
last night at 10.30-eight of us with
our feet to the centre-pole and heads
outward. We put one blanket between
the boys 'doubled up'. Two blankets
and all our clothes went on top of us.
First we lay on one side then on the
other; then some one would say a prayer
and the rest would chorus 'Amen'. And
so the 'minutes' passed until midnight
finally came and 'all were awake'.
'Sleep' ultimately came to the relief of
all and they slept till daylight appeared.
We all believe we will get use to the
boards when our hips are worn-off.
At 6 am. 'Reveille' sounded and at
6.15 'Stables' was blown. I have been
asked to go in the orderly room for a
time and as it forms a happy release
from the wearisome fatigues of [crossed out] attendant
on organization, I have accepted.
As a result I do not have to get up
until 7.30, but as the boards are
hard there is no encouragement for one
to lay in. I enjoyed my first day in the
orderly room and although there is much
work, I am quite contented. We are going
on leave this afternoon and will have
to report in the morning to resume work
although it is the Sabbath. There is a
great deal of work to be done.
April 16th. Put in a good
morning and worked through until 3 pm.
in order to get the work cleaned up.
On leave until midnight.
April 17th. Weather good. Case
of theft was brought up this morning. After
pay-day some fellow went through the tent
and made a great clean-up. The captain
attempted to locate the man, but it
was impossible. It is a bad start for a
new camp but the O.C. gave the bunch
such a warm little bit of advice that it is
not likely that the crime will be repeated.
One of the driver was nearly killed
this afternoon. He was out riding a fresh
horse and it ran away and made for the
stable. A large bunch was standing around
when the horse came tearing down but it
quickly dispersed. The gate was closed
and the driver (a new hand) when he found
he was unable to check his animal turned
pale in the face. The horse collided with
the fence and fortunately the girth parted
and the rider went clear, bruising only
his head. He missed a post by two inches.
The horse did not step on him because
its two feet were caught in the fence.
We have quite a musical crowd
here. There is a banjo player in camp
and each noon and evening a glee club
goes into action.
April 18th. Raining and miserable.
Fellows dismissed from physical drill.
Had a busy day getting papers ready for
the recruits. This afternoon we swore in
50 more men. The camp is filling up
well. The recruits are having plenty of
fun with the horses and there are many spills.
A riding school has been started and there
is some fun to hear and see the instructor
putting them through the ropes. On leave
April 19th Weather fine but cold.
Bill newton was a picket tonight and
got so tired between 2 and 4 that he
went off to sleep on a shelf in the
cookhouse; he had a fine going and his
relieving shift had to go and wake
him up! Busy in the office today.
As I am writing this record, 1
real hurricane is soaking[?]. The old tent
is bellying in before a Q.E rip-snorter[?].
We do not know when the tent will go but
are grateful that it has held so far. Its
a bad night to be under canvas, but we
might as well get use to it now as we
will probably get worse than this before
we get through with the job.
April 20th. Weather better. The
fellows now are laughing about the
'Farmer's Substitute' the new-name for
Fort Macaulay. It is also known as the
'Old Men's House.' All the fellows left are
old men and they are planting little gardens
raising chickens, pigs and cows. Its a
funny proposition and far from a fort.
To come into our tent at night is a
wonderous experience. Its an unusual aperience
and a sad one. There are eight in
our 'bell' and when we are all in there
isn't room for even a riding-rip to lay
down. Seven of us had rolled in tonight and
one [crossed out] the other came in. He couldn't find a
place to pitch his bunk so he shinned[?]
the pole to observe. We all laughed and
then [1 word] over.
During the night Mac felt the
cold and got us to look for his overcoat
to put over him. He made a noise and
awoke one of the others. He got him up to
help him locate this coat. After going
to rounds he suddenly remembered that
his coat was at the tailor's. The other
fellow was might sore and said his
Mac also furnished us some
further amusement. He took his clothes
to the tailor's to have altered and they
really looked fine on him. When he put
them on we all kidded him that they looked
punk. He had paid the boy but had not
signed. Finally we got him so disgusted
that he told the boy to give back his
money and take his clothes back and
have them further altered. We gave the
kid the [illegible] [crossed out] wink. Then we told Mac
everything was. O.K. and he was satisfied.
April 25th. During the past five
days I have been in the orderly tent and
last night I was outfitted in my new
uniform, bandolier, spurs, and riding
breeches. This morning the captain wanted
a couple of recruiting men to go to town
and get men so I was picked with
George Loma. We fitted out and went
into town this afternoon and when we
stepped off the can we attracted great
attention as we were the first artillery
boys to appear in town. The girls gave
us the glad eye and we could have had
a messy time, but we were anxious to get
recruits so passed them all up.
May 8th. I have been called in from
the recruiting office to attend the N.C.O.
class which has been started for the
battery. I had a successful stay in town.
I got a good number of recruits and had
all my nights at home It was surprising
the number of large families in town; the
eyed and decrepid fathers. We struck
young men who had four and five child.
[1 word] and many who had fathers who
were near the grave and the shock of
their joining would kill them. All
were ficticious stories.
During the last week, May 1st-7th
we struck a lively crowd of janes who
were performing at the Pautages[?] Theatre.
The fellows went craysy on them and
gave them brand new Whips, badges
and souvenirs. Some of the fellows would
talk to them for a couple of minutes
and then the girls would get their whips
and they would go and talk to some more
and get theirs. We went to the Pautages[?]
on Tuesday night (May 2nd) and
had some fun. About 100 of us attended
the second show and kidded the girls.
Some of the boys were a little the worse
for some Toddy they had imbibed and
the remarks passed were extremely
funny. In one instance a corporal who
hails from Blackpool, called out to one
of the actors who was doing a clown act
and had permitted his pants to slip
from the hips:
'Hey friend! Pick up your dressing.'
And so the kidding went on until
the final act came and a rist nearly
wrecked things. The chorus girls
couldn't sing for laughing.
The girls departed on Sunday
May 7th with the best wishes of the boys.
May 9th Weather fine. N.C.O. class
is progressing well and we are being
given a large amount of detailing, which
tells whether a man will make an
officer of not. We all take our turn in
drilling the class and detailing the
commands we are to give.
May 10th Weather fine. This
morning we started battery movements,
a very interesting work. I am attached
to no 4 gun as no 10, who is military
parlance is a coverer of the gun
captain and is in charge of the
firing battery wagon. The N.C.O. class
is being given special instruction. This
morning I was unable to obtain a
horse and had to rid on one of the
limbers[?]. Its pretty hard going on one
of these wagons, especially when the
ground is rough. The jolting is pretty
bad. This afternoon I had a horse
and the going was far better. It is
a great feeling to go tearing into action
with a couple of teams [illegible] [crossed out] skipping up
the turf and jolting about the gunners.
May 11th. Weather fine. Further
battery moovements in the morning. Today
our new batter sargeant-major reported
and this afternoon he gave us some
interesting instruction on the 18-pounder.
He intends to make a smart regiment
out of us.
May 12th. Today was an
important day. This morning we had
further drill on the guns. This afternoon
our class was taken out on the plains
and the most promising men were given
a trial. My turn came in time. I did
my best and the sargeant-major called
me over and asked me a hundred
questions about myself and also complemented
me. After this test he wanted to
see the prospective N.C.O's perform
in the saddle. I told him I was no
rider but could stick on almost anything.
I got in a saddle and got
through my test alright.
May 13th. Today was a still
further important day for me. At
9 o'clock I was called up for office
and lead down to the horse-lines and
asked where I had left my saddle
last night. I had forgotten to put it
away and left it out overnight. I was
taken to task by the lieutenant and
then marched back to the orderly
tent expecting to get 4 days C.B.
But I got a very pleasant surprise.
The orders were read out and I was
given my first stripe and from now
on I will be known as a 'Bombardier'
Immediately after the little
ceremony I was ordered to get a
horse and fall in with the officers
and N.C.O's to have a lesson in
riding. I got a nice little animal
and prepared for a razzling and
plenty of falls. But I got through
O.K. riding without and with stirrups
at the walk, trot and canter. There
were many spills however. After two
hours in the saddle we were ordered to
take the hurdles and jumps. This put
the nerves of everyone of us on edge
and I think they might just as
well have ordered us to take a German
trench. Everyone was scared to tackle
the hurdles. Finally a couple became
venturesome and took the jump and
left their horse and came in heavy
collision with the earth. This
further persouded[?] the reminder
that it was no safe job. However
a voice soon rang out:
'Come on [1 word]. Take a
chance. You've got to do it some
I recognized the hankering
voice as that of the instructor and
I knew that if I wished to get
anywhere his words were true. So
with quick decision I nwesed[?]
[end page][start page]
my passionate bust up to the hurdle
and giving it full reign took the
bar easily. My thoughts while in the
quick passage from earth to earth
cannot be described here, but I can
say that I was on the saddle when
the four feet pattered on to the turf.
Then I heard that hankering voice
again. It was encouraging this
'Well done Wills. Capital jump,'
said the instructor.
It was a pleasing sensation
and I monopolized the hurdles
from then on. I was finally ordered
to 'lead in',
I went on leave this afternoon
at 4 o'clock after having a two-hour
lecture on 'discipline' by the sargeant-
May 14th. Reported in at
4 pm and at 5 o'clock fell in with
my guard to do patrol work for
24 hours. For the first time I was in
charge of a guard. I had to post a
guard every two hours throughout the
night, which spoiled my sleep.
May 15th Monday) Weather good.
Still on guard. This morning the
drivers were taken out for a lesson
at bare-back riding. It was a sad
morning with no fewer than five
casualties. One boy was kicked in the
head and had his hand almost broken.
He came within an ace of being killed.
Another was kicked in the knee and
narrowly escaped a bad fracture.
Two others suffered blows in the
knee and another was belted in the
stomach with a hoof. The system of
teaching recruits to ride here seems
very erractic and accidents will
continue until the tactics are changed.
This morning the men were
allotted to various sub-sections and
a new system of forming the men up
for battery work was outlined. There are
four sub-sections and I am second
in command of Sub-Section C.
This afternoon we were notified
that there would be a parade
to town of the full unit. At the last
moment the sargeant of my sub-section
was ordered to take charge of a funeral
gun-carriage which meant that I was
to command the section, a hard task
for a new N.C.O. However, it had to be
done so I tackled it and did alright
I judged as all movements were done
O.K. We marched four miles to the
Vancouver boat to welcome a bunch of
Vancouver boys who came over to join
us. After picking them up we posed
for our pictures and then marched
about 1 1/2 miles when we were dismissed.
On leave until 11:30 pm.
May 16th Weather fine. Up at
6 am. everyone was happy this morning
as we were notified that we would be
paid. In the afternoon we were given considerable
gun and foot drill.
May 14th Weather fine. Up at 6am.
At 9am we were told off in gun
section for battery manoeuvre and I
was placed in charge of a sub-
section. These manoeuvres are quite
interesting and one has to keep his
head about him to avoid getting
into difficulties. This afternoon we
had skeleton drill, which was battery
manoeuvers on foot. This was for instructional
purposes and gave us a
good insight into battery work.
May 18th. & 19th Weather fine.
Nothing unusual to report.
May 20th. Weather fine. Up at
6 am. At lunch hour our O.C. read a
telegram from Ottawa ordering us to
be ready to leave next Saturday
May 27th for Petewawa. There was
great cheering when the boys thought
there was an early chance of them
Mounted on camp picquet at
5 pm and will have to remain in
for 24 hours.
May 21st Sunday. Came off
picquet at 5 pm and went on leave.
May 22nd. Weather warm. Up
at 6am. There will be no more battery
manoeuvers owing to the fact that the
horses have to rest up before taking
the train journey East. I was out
drilling a squad most of the morning
in gun work and spent the afternoon
giving another squad dismounted
May 23rd. Weather warm. Up at
6 am. This morning. we had to appear
in full bit for inspection by the
brigade O. C. and the battery O.C.
Prior to this the ammunition [1 word] was
divided from the battery. I decided
to go in the battery.
part of the morning we posed
for photography for the newspapers
and this afternoon we were shot
again. So you see we are cutting
quite a figure.
We were dismissed at 5pm
to start on our 48 hours' leave.
have to report in at 8.30 am on
Thursday morning May 25th
May 25th. Reported in at 8.30
a.m. Weather very warm. Making preparations today [illegible] [written in pencil] for our first firing
practice. At 10.30 we man-handled
the four guns-a battery-from the
gun pack to a suitable position on
Kanaks[?] ranch. We were firing on a
target at sea at 2,300 yards. Our gun-
no 1. got off seven rounds and did
good work. No. 3 gun had considerable
trouble. When the gun was laid
on the target there were three trees in
line with the nuzzle. [written in pencil] The gun captain
foolishly thought that he could shift
the gun and still be laid on the object.
He fired and the shell-a shrapnel
with fuze set-fell inside Fort
Macoulay and exploded. It opened up
a big hole and scattered debris all
over. A trumpeter was nearly killed and
one of the big guns narrowly escaped
destruction. The gun was ordered relaid
and then the officer ordered the
trees to be cut down. When they were
cut down one of the stumps was about
in line with the nuzzle. The gun
was loaded and it was a question
whether it would clear the stump or
not. When the officers learned that
the gun would be fired they became
scared. One hit into the woods and
the other hid behind a rock. They did
not think about their men-who were
gamer than they were. The fellows laughed.
The gun fired and there was nothing
exciting. After firing about 40 rounds,
We man-handled the guns back to
This afternoon we had some
time to ourselves to get our kits in shape.
May 20th Up at 6am. Weather
fine. Spent some of time doing squad drill.
Had most of afternoon to ourselves.
May 27th. 1916 [inserted] Up at 6 am. Weather
fine. Very busy getting ready to leave
for Petewawa tomorrow afternoon at
2.30 o'clock. Busy today getting our
kits in shape.
Item is the first of eight diaries written by Archie Wills during World War I. The diary covers the period of his training at Fort Macaulay and relocation to the Fort Work Barracks, both in Esquimalt, British Columbia between February and May of 1916. Wills writes of his decision to join the 5th Regiment, C.G.A, his anticipation of overseas service, camp life and conditions during a blizzard at Fort Macaulay, the transition from office work to hard labour, guard duty, food rations, leisure and sports activities, and interactions with fellow soldiers and officers. The diary includes descriptions of military training and exercises, including instruction in artillery, signaling and trigonometry, shooting practice and rifle and bayonet drills, and horseback riding lessons. Wills' diary illustrates the attitudes and activities of his fellow soldiers and records humorous dialogue, nicknames given to Fort Macaulay by the soldiers, comments on military hierarchy, and an account of a discussion about Canadian identity. At the Work Point Barracks, Wills writes about swearing in for overseas service (April 14, 1916), working in the orderly office, and his promotion to "Bombardier" (May 13, 1916). People mentioned include: Bill (William) White, Lieutenant Clearihue, Lieutenant Prior, Sergeant Major McDougall, Bill (William) Creach, Bill (William) Newton, and George Lomas.