Remember Me

Remember Me

Saturday, November 22, 2014

First Canadians to reach French soil.

Letter #6 of 88.
November 22nd, 1914 from Charles Roy Bailey, to his mom in Viceroy Saskatchewan. 

Charley's military records show that he entered France on November 7th, 1914 attached to the No 2 Stationary Hospital. It was this C.A.M.C. unit that was given the honour of being the first unit of the First Contingent to reach French soil.  

The unit responded so promptly when the call came from British Authorities that it arrived in France before proper arrangements had been made.  For almost three weeks the entire unit of officers, doctors, orderlies and some thirty five Nursing Sisters divided their time between Havre and Boulogne, before they arrived at their destination.

Charley was working as a Druggist in Winnipeg when he volunteered at the outbreak of the war.  Because of this, his postings over the next 4 years would be very specific to managing and dispensing Canadian Medical Stores.  This is his first letter home since October 31st and the only Field Service Post Card that exists in the 88 letter collection.


For some background on Le Touquet I offer this passage from `The War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps`. 

Le Touquet, some few miles beyond Étaples and on the outskirts of the small but very fashionable watering-place, Paris Plage, had before the war been well known to golf enthusiasts as possessing on its sand dunes the finest and best laid out golf course on the Continent of Europe, with a spacious Golf Club House, and in its immediate neighbourhood a small and cheerful Hôtel du Golf and several villas occupied season after season by enthusiasts of the game. The owner of the hotel, Mr. Stoneham, gave it over with great goodwill, and, what is more, donated an operating table for the purposes of the unit. The Royal Engineers made the necessary structural alterations to the hotel; the Officers were installed in "Robinson Villa," the Nursing Sisters billeted in a most luxurious villa belonging to a Roumanian noble, the orderlies in the Golf Club. By this means accommodation was secured for four hundred patients.  The furniture had been removed and stored by the proprietor, but bedding, sheets and kitchen utensils were left in the building for the use of the Hospital, which in a few days was ready to take in patients, receiving a first convoy of 115 on 4th December, the majority suffering from "trench feet," the others with slight wounds. Other convoys followed in rapid succession, and in three weeks the Hospital was operating at full capacity, under the administration of the A.D.M.S. Boulogne.

Tomorrow Charley writes his first `real letter` home from France.


War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps 

Thanks to Sue Light for a fascinating and unembellished history of the Nursing Sisters of WW1

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