- My Great-Uncle, Pte. Farquhar McLennan, killed in action, June 13, 1916
Join me, if you will , on a journey in time – a journey back 100 years!
I have designed this website as a media supplement to the novel “Flowers of the Forest”. The novel is a historical/fiction rendition of my Great Uncle, Pte. Farquhar McLennan’s time in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in the Great War. This site gives the reader of the novel, the opportunity to see photos of the vivid characters and amazing places that live in the pages of the novel. The reader will also have access to background information and research that went into writing the story. The Library and Archives in Ottawa provided a wealth of digital data that are displayed in this site. The project started out as my curiosity but soon became my passion. Read on as I update the site and find out why. Here is a chance to view some compelling photos and documents. Travel back in time 100 years and feel the vibe!
Battalion Colours of the 58th Battalion, CEF
Light blue rectangle – 9th Brigade
Dark blue triangle- 58th Battalion
Brown background – 3rd Division
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Cap Badge, 58th
This is the Bakery that Farquhar Mclennan worked in until April 1914. It is located at 15 Fountainhall Rd., Aberdeen. He worked as an apprentice for 5 years and then became a journeyman. Google Earth is a great tool for doing this kind of background research and providing photos of current locations in street view. I try to imagine what the bakery looked like in 1914. Later, I will demonstrate how to use Google Earth for overlays on Trench maps.
15 Foutainhall Rd., Aberdeen
On November 15, 1915, the 58th boarded a train at the Exhibition grounds and headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. The men used this time to play cards, sleep, eat and enjoy themselves. Two days later they arrived. Not much time was wasted transferring them to the city port and to the ship that they were to sail on – the HMT Saxonia.
click for more information on the Saxonia
Saxonia loading for England.
The ship had just arrived from a 4-day stay in New York City. The 58th was to share the ship with the 54th Kootenay Battalion and the 1st Siege Battery of Halifax. The Saxonia could accommodate about 1100 troops in relative comfort. For this trip, she would be carrying 2400.
A last glimpse of Canada for those destined to die.
3rd class accommodations
3rd class state room
Scenes taken by Col. Lamb when 1st Division crossed the Atlantic in Oct. 1914. The Canadian Press/HO, Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada
The Saxonia was originally a Royal Mail Ship of the Cunard Line. She was now one of His Majesty’s Troop Ships. She was painted in camo to make detection more difficult.
HMT Saxonia, troop ship in WW1
Saxonia in Camo
It certainly doesn’t take much imagination to picture the living conditions aboard ship. To make matters worse, they shared the vessel with a couple of dozen horses. There were many complaints about the amount of food that was served to the men. On November 29, some of the men raided the food canteen and this resulted in the Captain of the ship relenting, and increasing the portions given to the men.
Off the coast of Ireland the Saxonia picked up a destroyer escort for the duration of the journey. She arrived safely in Plymouth Harbour on December 1, 1915. For many of these men, it was a return home.
Our valiant travelers, the men of the 58th, felt lucky to arrive in Plymouth in one piece and alive. German U-boats had been taking a toll of troop ships off the coast of Ireland. Their escort probably deterred such an attack. A large contingent of locals greeted the ship as it entered the harbour.
Soldiers at Plymouth, England, waiting for the train to Liphook.
On December 3, 1915 the 58th boarded a train for Liphook, in the Salisbury Plain. Along the route, townspeople gathered at track side to cheer the men and treat them like heroes. The terrain was low and flat, providing something more akin to the Ypres Salient. In other words, there was plenty of mud and gook. At Liphook, they disembarked and proceeded on a 12 km route march to Bramshott Camp.
Many of the men in the 58th were mostly of English, Scottish or Irish birth, so the arrival back in Britain gave them an opportunity to visit friends and family when they went on leave.
Soldiers marching to Bramshott Camp.
The story gets better! To be continued.
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