In England - Training for Service at the Front


The narrative of Brigadier General Alex. Ross,C.M.G. D.S.O. V.D.
The official War Diary of the 28th Battalion

From the Ross Narrative:

Apart from the whole-hearted hospitality of the other Battalions of the 6th Brigade, there was little in the Dibgate Camp Area to make us feel. welcome and, as time went by, the first impressions of this locale did net improve. Fanned by every breeze that blew (and they were many and variable) the sandy soil showed a decided tendency to do everything except that for which it had been destined. It penetrated in large quantities the food, clothing and bedding, to say nothing of eyes, hair and mouths. As a relief, the Battalion was transferred to a meadow camp a short distance away at a place called Otterpool. It was an isolated spot, well calculated to promote meditation on the beauties of nature, but not at all to the liking of friendly gregarious other ranks or subalterns. The nature of the ground in this area gave the unit a good acquaintanceship with the future enemy - French and Belgium Mud - the disagreeable qualities of which it possessed in a marked degree.

From the War Diary:

The opening of the Official War Diary in England, began on July 1, 1915 with an entry stating that Dominion Day was to be celebrated in Dibgate Camp with the Battalion taking part in the Brigade sports. Throughout the month of July, the entire Unit was busily occupied in concentrated training in Musketry, Bayonet Fighting, Bombing, entrenching, and methods of trench warfare, route marching and physical fitness.

The Unit was saddened when No.74322 Private Peter Joseph Gorman, an original and a native of New Zealand, was struck by a Motor Bus and killed. He was buried in the Military Cemetery at Shorncliffe. On the day of Pete Gorman's funeral, July 6, 1915, No.74040 Private Arthur Gordon Gruchy, an original of the Machine-Gun Section who had enlisted in Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, was accidentally drowned while bathing. Private Gruchy was buried by members of his family who were residing in England at that time.

Intensive elementary training continued throughout the month of August, 1915. An ironic note in the Diary stated: “Lieutenant Colonel J.F.L. Embury proceeded to France for three days' service in the Field, Major Alex. Ross assuming command of the Battalion. Lieutenant Colonel Embury did not receive an extension to his three days' tour of duty”. On July 22, 1915, Captain R.W. Bruce, the original adjutant in Winnipeg, was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps at Fort Grange. This ended his service with the 28th Bn., although from time to time his name apears in Part II Orders indicating that he had advanced in rank in the Air Services. The last entry in the Part II Orders regarding him was dated January 12, 1918 and stated that Captain Bruce had been promoted to the rank of Major and posted to the Saskatchewan Regimental Depot. Prior to that time, he was given a special appointment with the R.F.C. and graded as Squadron Leader (Part II Orders of December 14, 1917).

Remaining in Otterpool Camp throughout the month of August, the Unit was given some training in minor tactics where both defensive methods were studied with varying success. However, in anticipation of the approaching tasks in hand, the fundamentals of bayonet fighting, musketry and digging were carried out continuously. The work of repairing and preparing Battalion trench systems was stressed. While this training was in progress, the Battalion was being fully equipped for active service on the Continent.


D.G. Scott-Calder's
The History of the 28th (Northwest) Battalion, C.E.F. (October 1914 - June 1919)
is © Copyright The Royal Regina Rifles Trust Fund. All Rights Reserved