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Friday, October 31, 2014

Letter #5, October 31st, 1914 from Salisbury Plain.

Letter # 5 of 88.  Oct 31st, 1914 from Charles Roy Bailey, to his mom in Viceroy Saskatchewan.  Charley is 'settled in' with the First Canadian Contingent at Salisbury Plain.

Oct 31st, 1914
Salisbury Plain

Dear Mother
How is everything. Just got back from London and it is sure some town. Say it is worth the trip over here just to see it alone. I never had any idea what the place was like before. Gee it is wonderful.

They are sending wounded by the thousands into England there were two trains of fourteen cars each came into one of the stations in London inside of one half day nearly all Belgium’s so if that many come into one station in half a day you can imagine what it would be like in all the stations in London let alone the other cities of England.
The weather here is pretty hard on the Canadians here it being so wet. I was on guard the other night and gee it was a lonesome job. Wandering around the lines all alone about 4 o’clock am.

The Highlanders that came over here with the Canadians are a pretty tuff bunch; one of them got fifteen years in the penitentiary the other day. There has been a couple of spies caught in the Canadian forces and they were both shot. 

I got Pa’s letter yesterday and more than pleased to think the Hotel is such a good paying proposition. When you write tell me about the young people if there are any in Viceroy.
How is V-V getting on at College, I will write to her just as soon as I get a chance but here you have to do your writing when you can. 

It is one awful place to be in a tent as the weather is wet.
Well Mother, write often and soon. When you write to V-V give her my address remember me to Pa and the kid. Hopefully this finds you in good health and spirit as ever.
No 2 Stationary Hospital
First Can Exped Force
Salisbury Plain

Oct 31st 1914, Charley's Pay Record showing his first 43 days paid out at one dollar a day. 
Life on Salisbury Plain was wet and cold. Colonel Nicholson's Official History of the Canadian Army notes that beginning October 21 through to mid February the amount of rain that fell on Salisbury Plain almost doubled the 32 year average. 
The Canadians were housed in unheated tents, there were gale force winds and the chalky ground did not drain.  Some nights dropped below freezing.  "There were no means of drying clothes and men who ploughed through ankle deep mud all day had to let rain soaked uniforms dry on their backs."  

Getting Weather-Proofed! Gallant Canadians, who are in training for the Front, 
in the mud and water of Salisbury Plain.  
The Canadians encamped on Salisbury Palin, for the completion of their training, are becoming weather-proof in readiness for the hour when they will recieve their much-desired marching orders for the front and the trenches.  Our photograph is a party of them negotiating the deep mud of the roads round the camps.  The persistent rains of the past weeks have turned the chalky soil of teh Wiltshire uplands inot quaqmires in the neighbourhoop of the camps, under the trampling of marching men ever on the move along them.  A visitor to the camps describes the various roadways as being in places "a sea of mud," "a veritable lagoon of slime," in spite of all efforts at "road making with planks and wattled hurdles and bundles of cut furse-bushes."

The conditions for the Canadians at Salisbury were plainly miserable and only going to get much worse.
Nicholson, G. W. L. 1962. Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919. Queens Printer and Controller of Stationary, Ottawa, Canada.
The WW1 service files of Charles Roy Bailey Canadian Expeditionary Force  #34260  Files can consist of up to two or three dozen forms, dealing with enlistment, training, medical and dental history, hospitalization, discipline, pay, medal entitlements and discharge or notification of death.

Newspaper Photos UK Ilustrated War News 1914  


  1. Wonderful Nick, - such great research. I hope you are planning to put it in print.

    1. Thanks Mum. I sure am. Perhaps sooner than later.

  2. Incredibly interesting.

  3. Thank you! It is fascinating research for me too and so gratifying to share Charley's story.