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«LONDON PRINTED BY AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY, OVERSEAS MILITARY FORCES OF CANADA. REPORT of the MINISTRY Overseas Military Forces of Canada LONDON ...»

-- [ Page 67 ] --

The people of Canada loosened wide their purse strings and the people of Great Britain not only opened their purses but opened wide their homes. A great number of the " stately homes of England "-which constituted but a mere phrase to the majority of Canadians prior to the War-have since become both real and ideal homes to Canadian officers and men who were on leave or recovering from wounds and sickness. It was not, however, merely the houses of the great which were thrown open to them. During their stay in the British Isles almost every class of the community afforded them hospitality of some kind. Practically every home in the country, from the Royal Palaces to suburban villas, were accessible to both officers and men. So widespread indeed was this net of hospitality that every Canadian in England was gathered in to some circle of new acquaintances, and in this way there have been formed hundreds of thousands of new and lasting friendships which must assuredly do much to bind the people of the two countries closer together in the future.

Some endeavour has been made to deal with this phase of the question in the sections of this Report which concern the activities of the Canadian Y.M.C.A. and the Canadian Red Cross ; but there are other organisations, not mentioned in those sections, which irresistibly claim attention and are worthy of sincere and grateful thanks. Among these are the Canadian War Contingents Association, the Canadian Field Comforts 508 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Commission, the Maple Leaf Club, the Imperial Daughters of the Empire Club, and the Beyond the Seas Association, whose activities are here reviewed in brief.

This by no means exhausts the list of both Canadian and Imperial Organisations which have lent their aid and bestowed their hospitality on the Canadian troops, and it is felt that mention must be made of the generous and kindly way in which the Committees of the various Service Clubs in London threw open their premises to Canadian officers. An especial debt of gratitude is due to the Committee and members of the Royal Automobile Club for the surrender of the whole of their splendid premises to the hospitality of Overseas Officers and to the Beyond the Seas Association for its establishment of the Canadian Officers' Club at Chesterfield Gardens.

CANADIAN WAR CONTINGENT ASSOCIATION.

The formation of the Canadian War Contingent Association in August, 1914, was the outcome of a desire on the part of several Canadians in the United Kingdom, and of the AngloCanadian community generally, to assist in promoting the happiness and. wellbeing of the Canadian Overseas Military Forces on their arrival in England.

The two main practical objects to which the efforts of the Association have been largely devoted are

1. The supply of extra comforts to the troops at the Front to supplement official issues, and the provision of other articles needed by the men which they could not otherwise easily obtain.

2. The operation and maintenance of a hospital for the general use of Canadian and Imperial troops.

A Hospital was established and opened at Beachborough Park, Shorncliffe, in October, 1914, through the kindness and generosity of the late Sir Arthur Markham and Lady Markham. About 3,000 sick and wounded passed through its wards up till the end of December, 1918.

In the matter of comforts, the Canadian War Contingent Association has received the cordial co-operation of its Branches in Toronto and other parts of Canada, also of many Chapters of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, and various other Canadian associations, societies and individuals. About 30,000 cases of comforts and hospital supplies were sent from Canada, including 1,500,000 pairs of socks-of enormous value Non-Military Organisations. 509 to the men—and innumerable other articles of clothing, food and comforts, which have added very much to the happiness and well-being of the Canadian Forces Overseas.

During the period of fighting the Association sent out to Canadians at the front 50,000 cases, each weighing at least fifty-six pounds, and containing a large variety of comforts. The number did not include thousands of smaller packages sent through the postoffice or the large number of parcels and cases re-directed to Units and individuals. Many parcels were forwarded to Canadian sailors serving with the British Fleet At the request of the Imperial Government the Association undertook also the distribution of parcels arriving from Canada and the United States containing dutiable articles addressed to Canadians serving in Imperial Units.

In addition to the comforts received, about £100,000 in cash has been contributed towards the work from friends in Canada and in the United Kingdom. Part of this money was spent on the maintenance of the Association's Hospital at Shorncliffe, and the balance in connection with the purchase and distribution of extra comforts for Canadian troops in the field. It is estimated that the total value of the goods distributed by the Association up to November 11, 1918, was about £400,000.

Letters from Lieut.-General Sir Arthur Currie, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., Commanding the Canadian Corps, and the General Officers Commanding the four Canadian Divisions, conveyed the appreciation of all ranks at the Front of the work of the Canadian War Contingent Association, and large numbers of letters are received every week direct from various Units, all in the same strain.





THE CANADIAN FIELD COMFORTS COMMISSION

The Canadian Field Comforts Commission is the Military organisation for the distribution of gifts and voluntary supplies from Canada to Canadian soldiers in the Field. It was formed at Valcartier in September, 1914, and came Overseas the following month.

The first Administrative Headquarters of the Commission were at Salisbury Plain. They remained there until March, 1915, when they were transferred to Ashford, and two months later to Shorncliffe, where they are still.

Many individual contributors and more than one thousand women's societies, representing eight hundred and seventy-two 510 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

towns in Canada, were in direct correspondence with the Commission and regularly contributed money and comforts. The Commission had a bonded warehouse for the receipt of dutiable goods. Supplies for the troops were forwarded from Canada by the Department of Militia.

During 1918, the following articles were sent to Canadian troops at the front by the Commission:— Bandages and first-aid articles

Books, games, cards, etc.

Candles, cookers, etc.

Cigarettes

Christmas gifts

Personal packages

Miscellaneous

Socks (pairs)

Sweets, cocoa, etc. (packets)

Shirts, sweaters, etc.

Sporting goods

Towels

Tobacco (packets)

Toilet and cleaning articles

Total

–  –  –

The number of parcels and packets despatched to Canadians in France was— 1914, Nov. 1 to Dec. 31

1915, Jan. 1 ” ”

1916 ” ” ”

1917 ” ” ”

1918 ” ” ”

Total

MAPLE LEAF CLUB.

The King George and Queen Mary Maple Leaf Club was organised and began its good work in August, 1915. The primary object of the Club was to provide attractive social centres and free accommodation at moderate charges for Canadian soldiers on leave in London from the Front or camps. in England.

The first premises were opened at 11, Charles Street, Berkeley Square, by Sir Robert Borden, in a house loaned by the Hon. Mrs.

Ronald Greville. The Club grew so popular with Canadians that a rapid increase in accommodation, to meet the demands and needs of the men, became imperative.

It was further decided by the Committee to extend the scope of service by opening store rooms for the men's kit and equipment, and bureaus for cashing cheques and depositing money and valuables for safe keeping, and to accommodate men arriving from France at all hours during the day and night. Many of the men had pay cheques for £20 or more, and arrangements for cashing them were made through the Chief Paymaster of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

The first house provided by the Club had 50 beds. In April, 1916, another house to accommodate 130 beds was taken. By the end of 1918, the total number of beds provided by the Club in different parts of London was 1,280, distributed among 16 modern houses in the best residential districts of London. In addition there were two large recreation and dining huts, situated near Victoria and King's Cross railway stations, provided by the Club, in which everything was free except the meals. The men were charged one shilling per night for a bed, and meals were one shilling each, except dinner, which was one shilling and two pence.

512 Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Recreation rooms with billiard tables, libraries in which were daily newspapers, current periodicals, standard books and writing materials, were provided free at all the Club buildings. Free tickets for concerts, theatres, sight-seeing trips, and visits to private homes, were often available to large numbers of men.

A special committee of the Club, known as the Overseas Reception Committee, composed of 50 London business men.and 14 noncommissioned officers, detailed by the Canadian Military Authorities, met all troop trains at the London railway stations to direct Canadian soldiers to wherever they wished to go. Frequently transport conveyed the men across the City. All the Club buildings were open day and night.

Since the formation of the Club in 1915 until the end of 1918, the following outlines in figures show the volume of service to the credit of the Club:— Number of cases dealt with by the Overseas Reception Committee

Number of meals served at the club buildings

Number of beds occupied

Average number of voluntary workers.................. 155

–  –  –

In addition to the subscription accounted for above, the Ontario Government expended £12,386 on equipment at the Grosvenor Gardens and Elizabeth Street buildings and on other incidentals.

Non-Military Organisations. 513

–  –  –

The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire Club at Lancaster Gate, London, was opened in March, 1918, to provide an attractive home at which Canadian Nursing Sisters, on leave from France or Hospitals in Great Britain, could stay at a moderate charge. It has been to Canadian Sisters in London what such clubs as the Royal Automobile have been to Canadian officers.

The charge for bed and breakfast at the I.O.D.E. Club is four shillings and sixpence, for lunch one shilling and sixpence, and dinner two shillings and sixpence.

The rent of the building furnished is £125 per month, so that the Club cannot be self-supporting. The Chapters of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire in Canada pay the rent, cost of equipment and lighting.

Since the Club was opened until Dec. 31, 1918, over 1,600 sisters have been accommodated and over 25,000 meals served.

In addition the Chapters of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire in Canada took a special interest in the I.O.D.E. Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Hyde Park, London, which was equipped for the Canadian Red Cross Society in 1916.

CANADIAN OFFICERS' CLUB.

The Canadian Officers' Club at Chesterfield Gardens, London, was opened in July, 1918, by the Beyond the Seas Association.

No fees or subscriptions of any kind were charged for membership.

The charge for bed and breakfast was five shillings and sixpence. Up till the end of December, 1918, the number of officers who had slept at the Club was 3,914, and the number of meals served 15,636. The rent of the Club and certain other expenses are guaranteed by Sir John Leigh, Bart., who, as chairman, works energetically for the welfare of the Club.

–  –  –

Since March, 1917, the full membership privileges of the Royal Automobile Club have been extended to all Canadian Officers Overseas without charge.

–  –  –

For bed and breakfast the nominal charge of five shillings and sixpence was made. The hospitality of the Club is indicated by the appended statement made up to Dec. 31, 1918.

–  –  –

ST. DUNSTAN'S HOSTEL FOR BLIND SOLDIERS.

At this Institution, which is under the direction of Sir Arthur Pearson, G.B.E., and is maintained by voluntary subscription, have been received all Canadian soldiers who have been blinded in the War, after their active treatment at Hospital is finished.

Here they are trained and re-educated for their new life, and, in addition to being taught the Braille System and the use of the typewriter, are trained in some useful occupation, such as massage, telephone operating, map making, basket weaving, shoe repairing, carpentry and joinery, as well as poultry farming and other outdoor pursuits.

Not until they have satisfied their instructors at St. Dunstan's that they are qualified to earn a living are they sent out to their homes in Canada. In their subsequent career they are followed and helped by the " After Care " Department of the Institution.

Sixty-six Canadian soldiers have received the benefits of this Institution, of whom about forty-six are still receiving instruction.

–  –  –

The magnitude and intricacy of the problem of Demobilisation was realised as early as January, 1918, when preliminary steps were taken to meet the situation which must inevitably arise when Armistice or Peace was signed.

In June, 1918, it was decided by the Minister to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole question.

This Committee considered all the problems which beset the period of Demobilisation from the all-important question of shipping down to the steps which should be taken to keep the men employed and amused during the time which would inevitably prove trying to all concerned. It cannot, indeed, be too clearly pointed out that the psychological problems of the Demobilisation period are quite as pressing as material problems. It is quite as difficult a matter to sustain morale as it is to organise repatriation.



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