Official history of the canadian forces in the great war

НазваниеOfficial history of the canadian forces in the great war
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in pursuance of the policy of concentrating hospitals in



areas to serve all needs. After that time, units for the lines

of communication were not mobilized with divisions, but

came forward from Canada as the general situation re


No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station was mobilized in

Toronto, February, 1915, under Lieut-Colonel G. S. Ren-

nie, and arrived in England April 29; it took over the

hospital at Moore Barracks, where it remained until Sep

tember 16, when it went to France, arriving at le Havre

September 17. The officers were detailed for duty in the

various British hospitals in the Havre area until the unit

opened at Aire on January 1, 1916, under Lieut. -Colonel

J. E. Davey.

No. 3 Stationary Hospital was mobilized in London,

Ontario, February 17, 1915, under Lieut.-Colonel H. R.

Casgrain. It arrived in England April 29, and was de

tailed for duty at Moore Barracks in conjunction with the

personnel of No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station, where it re

mained until sailing for the Mediterranean on August 1,


No. 3 General Hospital was the especial product of

McGill University. It was mobilized in Montreal, March

5, 1915, under Colonel H. S. Birkett and arrived in Eng

land May 15; it was employed on duty at Moore Bar

racks until June 15, upon which date it left for France,

arriving June 16, and opened at Camiers on June 19,

where it remained until January 5, 1916.

No. 4 General Hospital was organized by the Univer

sity of Toronto and was mobilized March 25, 1915, under

Colonel J. A. Roberts. It arrived in England May 27,

and took over the Shorncliffe military hospital, where it

remained until October 15th, when it sailed for Salonika

and disembarked November 9, receiving patier.ts the same



For the first time in any war the universities organized

medical units. The example was set by McGill which sent

overseas a general hospital in command of the Dean of the

medical faculty. Toronto, Queens, Western, Manitoba, Dal-

housie, Laval, St. Francis Xavier followed; and in the

United States, Harvard, Chicago, and Western Reserve.

Two ambulances, Nos. 5 and 6, moved into tents at

Otterpool on May 28, and No. 4 to Dibgate. There they

remained until September 15, when they entrained for

France. This time four and a half months was passed

by the 2nd Division in training and waiting for equipment.

Ottawa had not yet abandoned the task, and the War Omce

had not taken it up to the exclusion of all else, for the

War OflSce had other preoccupations. Provision had to be

made for medical service alone to a force with a total

strength of 3,500,000 men operating in every variety of

country and climate. Hospital beds in the kingdom and in

various war zones to the number of 637,746 must be

equipped and maintained. Medical units of all descriptions

numbering 770 had to be mobilized and dispatched to the

expeditionary forces. Seventy-five hospital ships or ambu

lance transports were being kept in operation, and these

brought to English shores 2,655,025 sick and wounded for

treatment and disposal between August, 1914, and August,

1920. The personnel for medical services at the time of the

armistice amounted to 144,514 ofiicers and other ranks,

and all this force must be trained, equipped, and admin

istered. 1

To finish the record and explain the delay in com

pleting equipment for the 2nd Division, it may be added

that the number of medical units mobilized in England for

dispatch overseas was 235 field ambulances; 78 casualty

clearing stations; 48 motor-ambulance convoys; 63 ambu

lance trains; 4 ambulance flotillas; 38 mobile laboratories;



15 z-ray units; 6 dental units; 126 sanitary sections; 35

depots of medical stores; 41 stationary hospitals; 80 gen

eral hospitals, besides convalescent camps.

It was August 31 before the transport wagons arrived

for the ambulances, to replace the Canadian farm wagons

previously supplied. As yet there were no ambulance-

wagons, horsed or motor, and no water-carts. The Cana

dian water-wagons when full were too heavy to haul; the

weight was on the hind wheels ; the whiffle-trees fell on the

horses hocks when the strain was released; the brake would

give way under pressure of the driver s foot. Horses were

arriving all summer in small lots, and the number was now

complete. The quality was good, and they were soon

trained to their work. A fleet of motor-ambulances arrived

under their own power. They were fresh from the shops

near Liverpool; the bearings worked badly, and some re

pairs were required before they were dispatched with their

drivers to France.

The following extracts from the war diary of an

administrative officer disclose the difficulties the Cana

dians had in obtaining equipment, and the difficulties the

War Office had in supplying it. Under a reasoned admin

istration the Canadians could have had that equipment

supplied in their own country, if only the contractors had

been brought under control.

July 3, 1915. Assistant Director of Remounts in-*

spected horses. I drew his attention to difficulty in obtain

ing extension pieces for harness for heavy draught horses,

and arranged this should be supplied at once from Wool

wich. Drew attention to neck yokes being too short for

heavy draught horses. Light Bain wagons have no chain

attachment; hence, whole weight falls on horse s neck;

necessary for these wagons to have chain attachments


July 8. Sent copy of proceedings of board, held in each

brigade, on new Oliver equipment to General Carson. Main


faults are: yoke not adjustable; canvas valise tears away

from leather braces; pouches unsuitable; waist belt too

narrow; entrenching tool heavy and difficult to carry, chafes

thighs and bangs about, not bullet proof; colour of equip

ment too light.

The officer commanding a battalion writes on July 3,

" A route march to Saltwood Castle and return was carried

but by the battalion in heavy marching order. While the

converted Oliver equipment worn is somewhat of an im

provement on the old pattern, it was observed to interfere

with the men s respiration."

In each ambulance the transport section carried arms

for purpose of defence. Reports were now prevalent that

the rifles were unserviceable. As late as September 8, those

sections were paraded to Sandling where workshops had

been set up. The breech was enlarged so that the cartridge

would fit more loosely. Each man was allowed to fire two

shots into a bank of earth, and if the bolt did not jamb,

the weapon was declared by the officer in charge to work

to perfection. He volunteered the information that the

cause of the trouble was the bad quality of the ammuni

tion supplied from British stores.

At this time Brig.-General J. C. MacDougall, a man

in failing health, was in command of the area, and he in

spected the medical units on their arrival. Major-General

S. B. Steele was in command of the Division. He was held

in high esteem by reason of his long public service; but

as he was born January 5, 1849, and was now in his sixty-

seventh year, he was considered by many on the ground of

age alone to be unavailable for more active service. Also,

he was suffering from an incurable malady, to which his

death was afterward due, and not, as an enthusiastic friend

alleged in a provincial legislature, to a broken heart over his

failure to be allowed to proceed to France. A heart so

easily broken would have found the strain of commanding

a division in France even more intolerable.


Political ties and the bonds of friendship were

being loosened in the strain of war. General Steele was

replaced by Brig.-General R. E. W. Turner, V.C., who

assumed command of the 2nd Division on August 17, and

a few days afterwards sent word that he was coming in

formally to visit the medical units. A diarist writes that

he " spoke with the officers as if they were guests being

presented; he said the merest few correct words, and won an

instant devotion. He did not appear to inspect the camp

nor did he ask a question. But from that moment his

hand was felt. It was felt first by the staff who now spoke

not for themselves but for the General."

On February 25, 1915, it was announced that Colonel

J. T. Fotheringham would assume command of the medi

cal services of the 2nd Division. The appointment was

well received by all ranks and by the public. He had long

been in the service; his academic position was assured;

his professional status was high; he was trusted as a man

of fair mind and generous heart. With the advent of the

new divisional commander fresh from France and rich in

experience Colonel Fotheringham acquired proper support

as head of an important service.

During the long summer of 1915 in England, the medi

cal services of the 2nd Division received a thorough train

ing or rather an education excellent in itself but useless

for any immediate purpose and a waste of time; but time

had to be wasted whilst the equipment brought from Can

ada was being discarded and new equipment supplied.

Schools were established. The officers of the three field

ambulances were formed into a class to learn land survey

ing ; from a professional school-master in a Captain s

uniform with staff badges; he carried his black-board

with him, and would sell a pencil for a penny, a ruler for six

pence, and a graduated scale for a shilling; he would make



a picture of a compass on his board, and the class would

repeat the points after he had named them." The wearing

of staff badges by nondescript persons diminished the pres

tige and authority of the general staff. There were lec

tures in horse-mastership to the drivers, all of whom had

already learned the art on Canadian farms, and their in

struction was made to include the care of mules, elephants,

and camels.

The brigade and divisional exercises were of inestim

able value. Two brigadiers were removed from their com

mands. One brigade was ordered to hold a portion of the

military canal which extends westward along the inner edge

of the Romney marsh at the base of the cliff. The bridges

across the canal had been " destroyed," and the heights were

held secure. Suddenly all was over. The " enemy " made

a feint on the front, but sent his main body beyond

holding line; his sappers put their pontoons across the

canal, and his force proceeded quietly to the rear. The medi

cal units learned the valuable lesson that they are an in

tegral part of the army and subject to disaster in common

with it. The commanders learned that mistakes fundamen

tal and fatal are apparent, and could not now be made

with impunity.

That summer of 1915 was a delicious holiday for Cana

dians who for the first time experienced the beauty and

delight of rural England. The diaries hold a suggestion of

surprise at such beauty: "Last night we returned to our

bivouac in Cranbrook on the great Stour in a level plain

intersected by ditches deep with water.. We marched for a

mile along a park bordered with hedges and set with noble

trees, descending at times into dank hollows dark with

spreading branches".


An order had been issued to the medical service, quite

contrary to regulations, recommending officers to keep

private diaries. The order was made a pretext for much

writing, but many of the manuscripts that have come under

observation are reminiscent of momentary irritation and

private spleen. A few points of light illumine the mass.

Thus: In the morning 57 men had instruction in the care

of arms. They lay on the grass in a hollow square. Behind

is a plantation of trees, the ground covered with flowers. A

sheep with two lambs in her shelter is always with us; the

place is at the head of a deep valley; a bugler is practising

on the hill and a cuckoo in the woods answers him. The

official diaries, on the other hand, too often recall a life of

desolate routine.

The reviews were incessant, but these manoeuvres were

obviously political and personal rather than for military

reasons. On July 16, the units of the Division marched

from six to sixteen miles merely to discover the places

assigned to them for the morrow. Of this review a critical

diarist supplies a pointed record: Reveille was at five; at

seven we moved off. The rain began. We were wet to the

skin as great-coats were not worn. The sun shone, and in

two hours we were dry. We drew up by units in fields ad

joining each other. Nothing happened. At length we were

ordered to dismount. The review was over. The reviewing

party had entered through a break in the hedge on the

right flank and proceeded to the rear. They then passed

behind the units on our left, and were concealed from view.

We mounted again. A staff officer rode up and said we were

to assemble to hear Sir Robert Borden make a speech, which

he did a very proper speech.

In August a review was held by the Minister of Militia

for Mr. Bonar Law in Beechborough Park. The distance
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