Thursday, December 17, 1914

In Camp, West Down South, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Battn. ordered to be ready to move to a point in England at short notice.  Bombardment of Scarborough caused fear that an attempt might be made to invade England.  Gen. Turner broke collar bone in motor car accident.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The Battalion history records: – “On December 17th the Royal Montreal Regiment prepared to move at short notice to an un-named point in England.  German warships had shelled Scarborough and for some time the possibility of invasion was entertained.  Soon, however, it became clear that the shelling was merely an expression of German “hate” and the stand-to order at West Down South was accordingly cancelled.”   [2]

BRITAIN SOON RECOVERS FROM SHOCK OF RAID: “London, December 17. The people of the English coast towns of Scarborough, the Hartlepools and Whitby, which yesterday were bombarded by German cruisers, resumed their ordinary occupations today.  The only difference discerned in the regular routine of this season of the year was the arrival of crowds of camera-bearing tourists, which reminded the residents of the summer influx, the return of those who had fled on the first sound of the firing, and busy mechanics who were early at work repairing the damage done by the shells.

The mayor of Scarborough placarded the walls of the city with posters advising the people to keep cool, but this was hardly necessary, for, beyond the grief for the loss of friends and neighbours and the little pride displayed at the attention they attracted, the citizens seemed to be going about their business in quite a natural way and it will not be long before all marks of the damage done by the gunfire will be removed.

The attitude of the people of England is much the same as that of the bombarded towns.  There are no signs of excitement, and the only effect the bombardment has had is the demand that naturalized Germans and those who have not been naturalized shall be excluded from areas open to an attack such as that delivered yesterday, and the little boom in recruiting which has been slackening owing to the approach of Christmas.

The Rt. Hon. Thomas J. MacNamara, Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, in speaking of the effect of the German raid, said that it was worth two army corps to Kitchener’s Army.

It is now believed that the German squadron included at least four battle-cruisers of the super-dreadnought class, and two armoured cruisers.  The shelling of the Hartlepools and Scarborough was simultaneous, but Whitby was visited by the warships after they had left the other towns.

An inquest was begun today on the 77 persons killed in the Hartlepools and tomorrow a similar inquiry will begin touching the deaths of the 17 Scarborough victims.”   [3]

COLONEL R. E. W. TURNER, VC, DSO: The Globe’s correspondent, William Marchington, gave more detail about Col. Turner’s accident.

“Colonel R. E. W. Turner, V.C., D.S.O., the officer commanding the Highland Brigade,* was seriously injured in an automobile accident near Salisbury today.  His collarbone and some ribs were fractured.  Colonels John Currie of Toronto, and Burland of Montreal were riding with him.  Currie was uninjured, but Burland was slightly hurt.  The car turned turtle going forty miles an hour.  The officers were returning to camp after taking a training course on the Isle of Wight.”  [4]

*  Note:  Marchington and others frequently referred to the 3rd Brigade as “the Highland Brigade” because three of the four battalions in the brigade (13th, 15th and 16th) were Highland regiments, while the 14th Bn, Royal Montreal Regiment was not.


[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Dec 17, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089681.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 20.
[3]   “Britain Soon Recovers From Shock of Raid,” The Gazette, Montreal, Friday, December 18, 1914, pg. 6, col. 7
[4]   Wm. Marchington, Staff Correspondent, The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, Dec 24. 1914, pg. 1, col. 5.

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