RMR EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND

09 Oct 14THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY, 09 October 1914 – Conditions aboard the troop ships of the convoy were less than ideal.  While officers enjoyed cabin class accommodation and service above deck, the troops endured cramped and stuffy conditions below decks.  As the duration of the voyage became longer, conditions became more uncomfortable.  Supplies started to run out, the few available pass times became boring and nerves became tense and frictions arose.  One such incident involving the 14th Battalion is recounted in a story of the 16th Battalion, Canadian Scottish: –   “… below decks tensions were rising between the men of the 16th and the 14th battalions. Although part of the 3rd Brigade, the 14th was the only one of its four battalions not to have Highland origins.  When some of its troops disputed nineteen-year-old piper Jimmie Richardson’s pipe practice, the news of this assault on their Highland pride raced through the companies.

09 Oct 14_B

Piper Jimmie Richardson’s bagpipes

The slender five-foot-seven Richardson had joined the battalion on September 22 at Valcartier.  His only linkage to one of the four units was a six-month stint with the Seaforth Cadet unit in Chilliwack where his parents had settled after emigrating from Bell’s Hill, in Scotland, so that his father could take the position of the town’s police chief.  An amiable lad, Richardson was popular with all the men regardless of which tartan they wore, and everyone vowed that this slight must not go unavenged.  A plan of action was quickly agreed; the complete pipe band hurriedly assembled and was escorted by the entire battalion through the ship to where the 14th’s men were quartered.  As the 16th stood guard, the “pipers played to their hearts’ contents” with the 14th warily and wisely choosing to offer no complaint.  Esprit de corps was indeed being born.”  [2]

Piper Jimmie Richardson’s bagpipes are now on permanent display in the B.C. Legislature, Victoria, B.C.

[1] Editing with Traces of the Past; http://vimyridgehistory.com/kit-1/cda-rallies/armada/aboard/#gallery/344/387/0
[2]  H.M. Urquhart, “The History of the 16th Battalion(The Canadian Scottish) Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War, 1914-1919,” Toronto; The MacMillan Company of Canada, 1913, pp. 25-26; as quoted by Mark Zuehlke in “Brave Battalion, The Remarkable Saga of the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the First World War,” Mississauga, Ontario, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd., 2008, pg. 20.
[3]  Steve Clifford, “Aboard the Andania,” Doing out Bit – Commemorating Soldiers of the First World War,   June 22, 2012;   http://doingourbit.wordpress.com/2012/06/page/5/

 

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