Different batteries arrived in camp with different degrees of proficiency. Percy’s 48th seems to have been well-prepared by life in Exhibition Camp, with mimic warfare in Toronto parks and a number of mounted inspections. The 55th also came to Camp long past the “suffering and despair” (1) that their first riding and driving lessons had induced.
Gordon Brown of the 50th Battery reported in mid-June: “I have only had one short ride since coming here and managed fairly well.” (2) He doesn’t seem overly confident about the experience.
Percy, on the other hand, was relaxed enough by now to describe himself as “resting in the saddle.”
By contrast, the 60th, which had formed in mid-March in Regina, had a lot of catching up to do. Not only was it newer than the 48th and the 55th by six weeks, but during its training in Regina,
the Battery had only four horses, and not a single gun; thus there was little opportunity of giving instruction in riding and driving; while for Section Gun Drill, crude models, made from orange boxes and waste lumber, did duty for field-pieces. It was not until a few days before the Battery left Regina that twelve-pounders and ammunition waggons were received. (3)
Then, at Petawawa, came “the first lessons in horsemanship”
—never to be forgotten—after which the men were glad to crawl to their tents, and in the cool of the evening dwell in retrospect on that weak moment when they had decided that their period of service to the Empire would be spent in a mounted unit.(4)
(1) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. Toronto: H.S. Longhurst, 1919.2
(2) Robert Gordon Brown, letter to his mother. June 17, 1916, in The Canadian Letters and Images Project.
(3) The 60th CFA Battery Book 1916-1919. . 11
(4) The 60th CFA Battery Book 1916-1919. . 15
The photograph is from Percy’s large album. Though Percy is relaxed, his horse is fully alert, probably because of the nosebag being shaken in his direction. On the back, Percy has written “An Outrider — Tempting.”