in the footsteps of John McCrae and the 1st Bde. C.F.A (Canadian Field Artillery)   1 comment

Yesterday I went to Steenwerck and to the original train station where McCrae and company disembarked after their journey from St.Nazaire in February 1915. I can only wonder what they were thinking as they landed in the heart of French Flanders. At first they were not taken seriously at all by the British. Marginalized would be an understatement. They were placed on the flank for the battle of Neuve-Chappelle and rationed to three shells per gun per day. After all the months of training in England they must have wondered why they bothered. McCrae discovered a decrepit 15 pounder gun he had actually used in the Boer War. They were ridiculously short of everything; guns, shells and didn’t even have helmets at this point.

Steenwerck train station

McCrae’s CO and buddy, then Lt.Col.E.W.B.Morrison, ignored the rationing order and got himself in trouble with the Brass Hats not long after they arrived.

Typical wide open Flanders farmland at Steenwerck

Today I went to Meteren, only a few kms from Bailleul where McCrae and Captain Cosgrave were billeted. They were staying with two elderly French ladies who christened Cosgrave ‘The Baby,’ (Morrison referred to Cosgrave as The Baby for the rest of the war) as he was a very young captain at 24 and labelled McCrae, The Medicine Major. An aside -Cosgrave went on to represent Canada in taking the surrender of the Japanese in WWII.

Outside Meteren military cemetery. Only 3 Canadians there, 2 unknown and one from the PPCLI

Lavender in the square at Meteren

If they were annoyed with the lack of action they would never have that sentiment again after they got to Ypres in another couple of weeks starting April 22nd, 1915.

Posted June 19, 2011 by windwrangler in Home

One response to “in the footsteps of John McCrae and the 1st Bde. C.F.A (Canadian Field Artillery)

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  1. I just found your blog and am enjoying it very much. Lt-Col McCrae was my grandfather’s cousin, so I am related to him, although indirectly. It’s nice to see that other people take any interest in him at all. Someday I would also like to take a tour of some of the battlefields of WW1 where he and both of my grandfathers fought. My Grandfather Alex Norman McRae was with the 10th Battalion and was injured at Cambrai in 1918, while my Grandfather Roderick Turnbull was a sapper with the Engineers (probably digging tunnels and mines, since he was a coal miner by profession.

    I’ll keep watching…..
    In Remembrance
    Norm McRae

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