While Percy’s 48th battery is waiting in Amherst, the 14th Brigade was preparing to leave Petawawa tomorrow for Halifax. Archie Wills’s diary details what must have happened in every battery in its turn.
One task was to lighten their packs, so “at intervals we stole a few moments to clean up our kits and discard whatever things were not essential.” (1) The official kit remained intact, of course, but those things which accumulate whenever soldiers settle for a few days underwent careful scrutiny. The post office was probably busy with packages being mailed home of snaps and letters and souvenirs.
And though many Canadian horses would be shipped across the ocean, the brigade did not take theirs with them.
Our last duty to our faithful horses was then performed. We thought a lot of our noble animals, for despite the fact that most of the boys carried marks of some of their sharp hoofs, we thought the world of our pals. They carried us many a mile over broken ground at breakneck speed and never faltered once. We hope they pass into good hands and have a happy end. (2)
This photo of the horse lines at Petawawa comes from Percy’s small album. The men were not feeling sentimental when this photograph was taken. Percy’s caption refers to harness cleaning.
(1) Wills, Archie. Diary. September 8, 1916. 3: 2 Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(2) Wills. Diary. September 8, 1916. 3:2-3.