This lovely painting shows the arrival of the Canadians in St Nazaire on Feb13/14 1915. They had come all the way from Avonmouth. (More here about the painting)
It gives us a sense of the relief that men from such a far away place had come to help. The Staff Officer in the red banded hat looks awfully like Alan Brooke - who joined the Canadians as a staff officer as the Canadians had no experienced staff officers. But it seems that he joined the CEF in 1917 - but this is a look alike!
He and Andy McNaughton disliked each other from the start. McNaughton was to pay a high price for this in WWII when he was CIC of the Canadian Army and Brooke was CIGS.
Note the intensely Scottish aspect of the Canadians.
I find the routing of this trip odd.
If you look at the map, this is about as long a sea route as is possible. The Canadians had too get from Salisbury Plain to Bristol and the to the far west of France. And then to Belgium?
According to Nicholson's account in Gunner of Canada, the reason for this route was the Uboat threat.
The crossing was long and very rough. Many horses had to be shot and thrown overboard as they had broken legs. The CFA had its first death too. A cook in the 9th battery fell and fractured his skull.
What had been planned as a 36 hour crossing lasted unto 5 days.
The 5th Battery, Alec's, was the City of Dunkirk.
(The wonder of the web is that I can find here there.)
They now had to get all the way from St Nazaire to Belgium. They did this by train. So the map I show does not show the route because there is no longer a train alternative to road. But the map gives us a sense of the distance involved.
They ended up in Borre just 1 1/2 miles East of Hazebrouk (see the blob) at 9.30pm on Feb 17 having travelled non stop since Feb 12. 5 days and nights with little or no sleep.
On Feb 20th General French inspects them all. French was the C in C of the BEF and his prompt inspection is an indication of how important this 18,000 men reinforcement was to him. The Canadians had come all the way from Canada and had arrived before any significant British Territorials had. The BEF had been relying on their reservists until now. It would be not until 1916 that the new Army of recruits would arrive.
On Feb 21 the 5th Battery moved to Ploegstreet - known affectionately by the BEF as Plugstreet. Then back to Borre and then on the 28th to Sailly.
On March 1, the 5th Battery had its first casualty - Private Ben Padden was killed accidentally by a sentry unloading his rifle.