Leaving Witley, August 20, 1917

Monday         Reveille 4 am left Gun Park 9 am, left Milford Sta no God’ [Godalming] Sta 12:30 arr Southampton 3:30 pm embarked & left 8 pm anchored in the bay at 4:30 am Tues am well

1917 08 20-26 crop

Finally!

“We were ready in every way, as far as training and equipment was concerned, in fact, it is doubtful whether a younger, better trained division of artillery ever crossed the Channel.” (1)

Percy’s battery departed on schedule: he was in the second half of the 55th Battery, the first half having departed nearly two hours earlier. According to the entrainment tables, his contingent consisted of 3 officers, 97 other ranks, 88 horses and mules, 3 guns with their limbers, and 7 four-wheeled wagons. (2) Multiply that by fifteen to get the traffic from Witley to Southampton today.

All those horses are saddled and harnessed, with nosebags filled for the journey. They will not be unharnessed until they reach France. (3)

The Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery is taking a motor car overseas. Cadillac Car No. 36192 is being driven to Southampton this morning. (4)

Off for France.JPG

Think of all the local folks, lying abed as the Canadians tramp by their hundreds down the lanes in the small hours of the morning: a tired farmworker cursing the interruption of his sleep by the creak of wagon wheels and chink of harness, the clatter of iron shoes on the road. A sleepless girl listening for one last whistle under her window.

Janie doesn’t yet know Percy is off to France.

(1) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. 1919.  11.
(2) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 7 (August 1917). Appendix “Entrainment Table: 1”. Library and Archives of Canada.
(3) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 7 (August 1917). Appendix A: “Extracts from Instructions for Entrainment and Embarkation.”
(4) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 7 (August 1917). Appendix:  “Additional Administrative Instructions: 2.”

The photograph, labelled “Off for France” comes from Archie Wills’s “All in a Lifetime,” [photograph album]. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”