RMR’s MECHANICAL TRANSPORT IN 1915

Sunday, January 10, 1915

In Camp, Lark Hill, Salisbury Plains

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Rain.  No parades.” [1]

Vehicles of the First Contingent A convoy of six different motor vehicles passes in review at Rockcliffe, Ottawa. A variety of vehicles equipped the First Canadian Contingent. Some were very good, but repeated breakdowns in England revealed an uncertain supply of spare parts. The Canadians were soon re-equipped with British kit, weapons, and vehicles.

Vehicles of the First Contingent
A convoy of six different motor vehicles passes in review at Rockcliffe, Ottawa. A variety of vehicles equipped the First Canadian Contingent. Some were very good, but repeated breakdowns in England revealed an uncertain supply of spare parts. The Canadians were soon re-equipped with British kit, weapons, and vehicles. [2]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: “For the purchase of the vehicles required for the Canadian Contingent the Minister of Militia again departed from the usual procedure, although the Director of Contracts, with his authority, continued to sign all orders.”  [3]

The Minister was apparently in a hurry to obtain the necessary transport vehicles, and appointed a number of agents, giving them honorary officer rank.  Starting in August 1914 the initial request was  “to purchase 428 wagons, of which 170 were what were known in the department as very heavy type, 258 of what were known as a light type.”  In addition, requests had come from England to send what was known as “mechanical transport, complete.”  [4]

As a result  “three separate commissions were executed … of which the first resulted in the purchase of 25 motor trucks, of five different makes and mostly of 2 ton capacity, 14 trailers and 11 heavy wagons, for transportation at Valcartier; the second in the purchase of 455 heavy and 398 light farm wagons, of eight different makes, at a cost of $100,217.35, being horsed transport vehicles for the contingent; and the third of 7 motor cars and 133 motor trucks, chiefly 3-ton, for the Supply Column and Divisional Ammunition Park, with bodies manufactured separately.  There were eight different makes of truck, at an average cost of $3,300; the motor cars cost $2,750 each.

A special purchase of the motor transport vehicles for the Automobile Machine Gun Brigade was made on behalf of the donors by Major R. Brutinel, appointed to command the brigade.  This included 8 armoured cars, 12 other cars and trucks, 17 motor cycles and 16 bicycles.

General purchases by the Department for the Expeditionary Force included 29 motor cars at $647, thirty-two motorcycles at $300 each and 412 bicycles at $62 each. Of the technical vehicles, twelve engineer’s tool carts and three cable wagons were designed, built and purchased. Watercarts were also specially designed, of two types, and 49 were bought at a cost of $21,730.

To complete the remainder, vehicles already on ordnance or unit charge were utilized; the Chief Ordnance Officer withdrew carts and wagons as required from the nearest Militia units at discretion.  Some technical horsed vehicles, such as telephone wagons, pontoon and trestle wagons, and a few obsolete light ambulance wagons, were available; but G.S. wagons, Maltese carts, travelling kitchens, S.A.A. carts, heavily horsed ambulances and light spring R.E. wagons of British standard pattern were not;  Canadian local pattern farm wagons, light or heavy as loads demanded, were therefore substituted.  To complete establishment, watercarts of Canadian Militia pattern – a barrel mounted on four wheels – complete with harness, were shipped to Valcartier, from all Districts except M.D. 11 (British Columbia).”   [5]

[1]    War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Jan 10, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089686.jpg
[2]   “Vehicles of the First Contingent,” George Metcalf Archival Collection, Canadian War Museum # 19910109-152
[3]    Col. A.F. Duguid, “Official History of the Canadian Forces in The Great War 1914-1919, Vol. 1, Part 1, King’s Printer, Ottawa, 1938, pg. 78.
[4]   Ibid, pg. 79
[5]   Ibid, pp. 79-80

 

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