A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 93

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THE CANADIANS IN ENGLAND


accompany the army. There was a complete medical department, chaplains were given military rank, and - at that time an unusual feature - secretaries to the Y.M.C.A. were given rank as officers and attached to the regular forces.

By the end of September the expeditionary force was complete, from a very carefully chosen Intelligence Department to the hospital orderlies. Then one day officers and men set out as though on a route march, but this time their steps were directed towards the St. Lawrence, and they did not look back. A fleet of great ships had been assembled there, the expeditionary force marched aboard, its guns and supplies were slung into place, and it sailed for Europe.

The voyage across the Atlantic was watched with anxiety by the people on both sides of the ocean. Would the raiding German cruisers succeed in attacking them en route? A complete veil had been drawn over the movements of the troops. For some weeks no Canadian newspapers were allowed to circulate abroad. No word was breathed of where, or how, or when the Canadians had started.

Early in October a report was circulated in England that the contingent had landed at Southampton. The report turned out to be false. Then, on October 14, the people of Plymouth were surprised in the early morning to see transport after transport arrive in the Sound, and drop anchor there. Across the waters, the sound of singing and shouting and cheering was borne from the boats, and thousands of khaki-clad men could be seen on the ships' sides looking towards the shore. The word went round the town that the men on the crowded decks were Canadians, and Plymouth and Devonport thereupon set out to give the new comrades a royal reception.

A group of camps had been arranged on Salisbury Plain, and the men were immediately moved there. The young recruits hoped to proceed to the front within a week or two, but the British military authorities had other ideas, and gave them an exceedingly hard course of training, which, starting in October, continued well on into February. It had been intended to transfer the troops from their tents to huts before the winter weather came on, but the shortage of labour in England and other causes prevented the completion of the huts, and most of the troops were still under canvas when the New Year opened. The life of the Canadian troops during those weeks on Salisbury Plain was

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