RAIN: The Return of “RMR Weather”

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY, 22 October 1914 – From the 14th BATTALION (RMR) WAR DIARY:

Thursday, October 22, 1914

Camp Salisbury Plain, West Down South

The Battalion diary for this date carries the notation: “Rain all day. No work possible beyond necessary routine”  [1] This was to be the first of many such reports in the days ahead.

RAIN

22 Oct 14“Before the last Canadian unit to disembark had reached Salisbury Plain the weather had broken.  A quarter inch of rain fell on 21 October, and a full inch in the next five days.  It was the beginning of a period of abnormally heavy precipitation which brought rain on 89 out of 123 days; the fall of 23.9 inches between mid-October and mid-February almost doubled the 32 year average.  There was no escape from the ever pervading dampness, and conditions steadily deteriorated.  Temperatures were unusually low, on some nights dropping below the freezing point.  High winds pierced the light fabric of the unheated tents, and twice in three weeks gales flattened much of the Division’s canvas.  Mud was everywhere.  An impervious layer of chalk a few inches below ground-level held in rain water at the surface, and wherever wheels rolled or men marched the “excellent” turf quickly became a quagmire.  All attempts at drainage were fruitless; scraping the mud from the roads only exposed the treacherously slippery chalk.”  [3]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Oct. 22, 1914.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089670.jpg
[2]   Transports passing down a flooded country lane at Salisbury Camp. Canadian War Museum Photo archives; Image no.  M.316;Control no. 19930003-384
[3]  Col. G.W.L. Nicholson, CD., Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, Duhamel, Queens Printer, Ottawa, 1962,  pg. 35.

 

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