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Overseas – 1914

The S.S. Florizel, St. John’s harbour, Oct. 1914

The Florizel reached Plymouth on the 14th of October but The Newfoundland Regiment did not disembark at Plymouth until 20 October. Most of the day was spent unloading equipment and supplies. That evening the Regiment boarded trains destined for Pond Camp on the Salisbury Plain where the tented camp became their home for the next seven weeks. The Newfoundland Regiment was placed under the command of a Canadian officer, Lieutenant Colonel E.B.Clegg, who reorganized the regimental structure. All of the Newfoundlanders were issued standard British uniforms and accouterments including khaki puttees. This did not alleviate their concern that the Newfoundland Regiment would be permanently attached to the larger Canadian Force.

Life at Pond Camp proved difficult. The tents were initially without wooden floors. For much of their stay at camp it rained creating mud which formed on the chalk layers underneath. By November, the Canadian Contingent began leaving camp and a new Commanding Officer for the Regiment was appointed. Lieutenant Colonel R. de H. Burton was a British Officer who had come out of retirement at the outset of war. He relied heavily on the route march as the preferable method of preparing troops for battle. In November news spread that the Newfoundland Regiment was moving out of Pond Camp.

In December the Regiment was moved to Fort George, Inverness located in the Highlands of Scotland. For the next ten weeks the Regiment trained under more favourable conditions. Most of the troops were housed in buildings in the main fort area. They were provided with iron cots and mattresses. Much of their training while at Fort George concentrated on shooting . The Newfoundland Regiment celebrated its first Christmas away from home with a Regimental dinner and with visits to the many homes of the Scottish people who showed in many ways their appreciation for these young soldiers.

In February the Newfoundland Regiment boarded trains yet again to take up their new post at Edinburgh Castle in the Scottish capital. They were met there by the Second Contingent from Newfoundland consisting of 244 new recruits. The troops were housed in barracks which proved cold and damp in the winter weather. The training in Edinburgh was to be equally vigorous. Route marches, drill, and PT occupied the troops daily. By March, the arrival of more recruits brought the Regiment to full battalion strength.

In May, the Newfoundland Regiment were transferred to Stobs Camp, Harwick. This move marked a return to life under canvas. Conditions improved however with the coming of summer. Training at Stob’s Camp included the usual drill and PT along with basic musketry. The Newfoundlanders were also provided with the British Lee Enfield to replace their Canadian issue Ross Rifles.

It was at Stob’s Camp on June 10th that the Regiment received its own King’s Colour, a gift of the Newfoundland Chapter of the Daughters of the Empire. The next day “F” Company arrived at camp bringing the Regiment’s total to 1500 men.

On the 2nd of August the Newfoundland Regiment departed Stob’s Camp for Aldershot. News soon came that the Regiment was going into action.

An interesting sidelight of the Regiment’s history in ‘The Great War’ was its close association with a regiment in the British Army that it fought with in the War of 1812 in Upper Canada: the First of Foot (The Royal Scots). (Click here to see the Regiments of the War of 1812). The Royal Scots were also at one time garrisoned in St. John’s in the 18th (19th?) century.