Month: April 2018

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Bramshott Part 2

ww1-canada-bramshott-camp-official-war-phot-c-w-l_1_7ad3db771c3af3c86dfff1f9ccae28e8

Bramshott Camp Officer’s Mess

The 58th was in Bramshott, England over the Holiday period, December to January, 1915. Most of the men, being from the British Isles were able to secure leave and go to visit relatives and friends. When I wrote the manuscript for “Flowers of the Forest”, I just assumed the Farquhar McLennan would make the train trip to visit his family in Aberdeen. At this time, both of his parents were dead, but he had many relatives and friends to visit. As it turned out my assumption was correct. This is where it gets interesting.

Only a short time ago, I was posting ads in Facebook for Flowers of the Forest. A gentleman from one particular Facebook group in Scotland, sent back to me, more information on Farquhar McLennan; information that was entirely new to me. Yes, Farquhar had traveled to Aberdeen, right before Christmas. What knocked the wind out of my sails was that he traveled there to get married. When he enlisted at Niagara, he enlisted as single, with Catherine Law, his sister, as next-of-kin.

Indeed, he got married on Christmas Eve, 1915. His bride was Miss Rachel Collie of 73 Leslie Terrace, Aberdeen, Scotland.

78 Leslie Terrace, Aberdeen

73 Leslie Terrace, Aberdeen

File#7Collie

As a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he would have to get permission from his CO, Lt. Col. Genet, to get married. Apparently he did that. But it seems that Farquhar was a little late in returning to Bramshott from Aberdeen as he was listed as AWOL and confined to barracks for 5 days, plus fined 1 days pay. ($1.10)

 

File#9Consent

Proof of engagement and permission to marry.

File#13CTB

Confined to barracks (cb) and fined 1 days pay $1.10, Dec.28, 1915

To be continued, more surprising stuff!

 

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Flowers of the Forest – now available

The hard and soft cover versions of the book are now available on;      Amazon.ca – Books,    Amazon.com,                   Amazon.co.uk  

 

or ebooks on ;             Chapters-Indigo       or;         Barnes & Noble

CLICK ONE!

Be the first on your block to own one!

Cover&back

 

 

Enjoy!!

Football behind the lines.
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Story Synopsis

Synopsis: Flowers of the Forest

 

Just after the start of the Twentieth Century and before the start of the Great War, three young men emigrated from Aberdeen, Scotland to Toronto, Canada to start a new life. Jonathan (the narrator), Farquhar and Elmer move to Toronto and begin work at Dunlop Tire in the city’s east end. They play on the Dunlop football team and win a city championship. One of the young men, Farquhar, is an exceptionally talented football player and his skills are noticed by others. The Great War breaks out in the summer of 1914, and one year later the three friends decide to enlist. They travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake and join the 58th Battalion, Central Ontario Regiment. The founder of the battalion is Lt. Col. Harry Genet, and he is one of the football organizers who had noticed the level of Farquhar’s talent. Genet owned and ran a football club in Brantford, and he has arranged for the three lads to be enlisted in his battalion. His desire is to have them play on the battalion football team, and also to keep them out of harm’s way when they travel to the Western Front.

The battalion trains for five months in Niagara at a camp ironically named “Paradise Camp”. Life is good there and the men learn the basics of warfare, make new friends and thrive in the warm summer sun in Niagara. Two young men from Northern Ontario ( the Wonkey Twins) become indispensable mates, along with Lenny, from Owen Sound, who is older and provides some wisdom. There are several battalions training there, and sports competitions become paramount, particularly, football. A great rivalry develops between the 58th and the 35th Battalions.

The summer comes to an end and with the cooler weather; Paradise Camp must close for the winter. Twelve thousand men take part in the “Great Trek” from Niagara to the CNE grounds in Toronto. This is a route march that takes about six days to complete. The battalions billet at the CNE and continue their training until they are shipped out to fight overseas. The 58th leave Toronto by train for Halifax at the end of November, 1915. In Halifax they board a troopship, HMT Saxonia, bound for England. The trip across the mighty Atlantic is not without adventure. Bad food, rough weather and German submarines give them nightmares. Their destination is Bramshott Camp, located in the Salisbury Plain. At Bramshott, the Battalion receives its’ colours and the men continue their training. The three good friends manage a trip to London where they encounter some fine food, good drink and pretty women. They have an excellent adventure.

All too soon, news comes of their call to arms in Belgium. The battalion travels across the Channel to LeHavre, France and then move by train to Belgium. By increments the men are moved closer to the front, all the while continuing their training. As the spring of 1916 approaches, the 58th finally get close enough to the Western Front to get a taste of it. When they are deemed ready, they experience their first combat missions. Lt.Col. Genet makes an effort to keep his valued football team away from direct conflict. He assigns them to kitchen duty. The team rebels, and asks to be placed back in the lines with their battalion mates. Genet relents, but pulls a fast one by sending them to a “live and let live” combat zone ( more a non-combat zone ). After some time fighting boredom instead of Germans, they end up playing a game of football in no man’s land against their foe. High Command gets wind of the game and sends the football team back to a full combat zone near Ypres, Belgium. The team is integrated back into their units where they will face real combat.

The 58th is assigned to work with the Third Division to win back lost territory in area called Sanctuary Wood, in June, 1916. On the 13th of June, the Battle of Sanctuary Wood takes place. It is a vicious battle that results in a historic victory for the Canadians, but horrific losses on both sides of no man’s land. Farquhar McLennan is killed in action during this battle. His two best friends are devastated but continue on in the war and survive to return home. Jonathan makes a mission of telling Farquhar’s young nephew all about his heroic uncle. The story ends with Jonathan “passing the torch” to William (the nephew) as William prepares to leave for duty in the Second World War.

 

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Bramshott – More troubles

For our heroes, life at Bramshott was not as comfortable as their hot, hazy days at Paradise Camp. The training was similar but discipline was much more rigid. The barracks were relatively comfortable but at close quarters. Health problems reared an ugly head and Spinal Meningitis took hold in the camp. Two men lost their lives. The first casualties of War for the 58th. On January 3rd, Pte. Oscar Gallagher died, followed 3 days later by Bugler, Harry Rance.

In mid January, word got around that the 58th had been chosen to got to France. In February, the 58th was selected for the 9th Brigade in the 3rd Division. They were joined by 43rd, from Winnipeg, 52nd, from Port Arthur and the 60th from Montreal. On February 20, the Battalion moved to Southampton and then  across the Channel to LeHavre, France. The War was about to begin in earnest!Lehavre_b