Target Practice 2

The Exhibition grounds had been drying up all week, said the Globe, anticipating that the batteries would “find it much easier to keep equipment clean” than the year before. (1)  Half an inch of snow fell on April 8, 1916, but the hardships suffered in February 1915 were much greater.

The Globe reporter certainly found it a white-knuckle experience, as he sailed out into the icy lake the morning of February 20th.  His account is lively:

At 9 a.m. the two targets — big square frames with an upright square of canvas — were placed at the end of the pier in waiting for the ‘tug.’ This proved to be a little 15-foot motorboat, which snorted its way swiftly over the ice-strewn water.

There were five men aboard — an observing officer, an artificer (a military mechanic), a signaller, the boat owner, and the reporter.

Anchors and cables were piled in and the free board began to look diminutive, but once started the tiny tug certainly kept things moving. The fun began when several hundred yards from the pier a big ‘ice-field’ was met. Here [the observer’s] muscles came in handy, and he wielded a pole from the bows which did great execution with the offending ice. … A strong breeze… proved unwelcome, for it meant a battle between a three-foot swell and a four-inch freeboard, in addition to two unruly canvas squares which showed an inclination to take the motorboat on a trip somewhere southwest.

The “insubordinate targets” having been towed into position, “five dripping and half-frozen men then eagerly awaited their reward.”(2)1915 02 19 3 crop

An attentive eye was being kept on the targets, meanwhile, from the shore, while the gunners waited by their unlimbered guns.

To be continued…



(1) The Globe (1844-1936). Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers. April 4, 1916. 6
(2) The Globe. February 22, 1915. 6.
The photograph is one of John Boyd’s First World War Photographs, City of Toronto Archives.

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s