RMR Entrepreneur Spirit in 1915…?

RMR Entrepreneur Spirit in 1915…?

Sunday, May 9, 1915

In billets, Bailleul (Le Nouveau Monde)

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “14th Bn. inspected by Lt.-Gen. E.A.H. Alderson who addressed the original men of the battalion and the new men separately.  Congratulated the former on their splendid work, and told latter they would have to live up to the standard established by the battalion”. [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “At Bailleul equipment was issued to the men to replace losses of the previous fortnight, and the new officers strove to attain the high standards set by those who had become casualties.  Similarly men of the new drafts worked to equal their brothers-in-arms, whose deeds at Ypres commanded their unstinted admiration.”   [2]

09 May 15NOT SO FUNNY HI-JINKS: “A solace at the end of the day was a ration of rum, which offered some protection against the marrow-chilling cold. Another measure was a one pound cardboard container of anti-frostbite grease issued to each man. The substance was nowhere as popular as the rum, but two enterprising soldiers found a profitable way to dispose of it, though their business practices were deplorable by any standard. P. Palin(sic)* (14th Battalion) jokingly relates a story that his victims would not have found quite so amusing:

‘We didn’t use the stuff, so we got quite a stock on hand, so Mike Conroy he got an idea. Him and I volunteered to go out and bring in the officer’s rations for B Company. Well we did it two nights running and we snaffled all this Hartley’s Strawberry Jam in … jars and hid it. So we took all the anti-frostbite grease and we put in two inches of Hartley’s Pure English Strawberry Jam, wiped it off, put the cover on top, put it in the sandbags.

So that night we got out two sandbags apiece. We got over the bridge going into Armentieres and we got into a café and I said ‘Monsieur vous desirez acheter de confiture anglais?’ ‘Oh oui, oui, oui, come in the back.’ So we go in the back and I had my spoon ready in my puttee. I opened up the sandbag and I take out one of these cartons, take off the cover, and take out my spoon and I said, ‘Bien, Monsieur, gouttez ca. Premiére classe.’ Well we made quite a few francs in that load brother. I think it was around four hundred francs. Confiture Anglaise, anti-frostbite grease.’ ”

* Note: This would have been Pte. Francis J. Palin, #25754 of the 14th Bn. He was a 22 year old Montrealer, an electrician by trade, who had enlisted initially with the Canadian Grenadier Guards, and had been transferred to the 14th and assigned to ‘C’ Coy. (Captain Richard Steacie). Palin signed his attestation paper on September 21st 1914 at Valcartier. He survived the War.

[1] War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 9, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089731.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 53.
[3]   Tommy’s Pack Fillers; http://www.tommyspackfillers.com/showitem.asp?itemRef=RL242
[4]   George H. Cassar, “Hell In Flanders Fields: Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres,” Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2010, pp.66-67


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