Hugh S. Calverley - A Man at War...
Letters to the Family
Drawing of a Round Tent
Drawing of a Round Tent Details
Letter – I enclose Gran’s letter – Sept 16, 1914

I enclose Gran’s letter. It is such a nice one. We won’t be going yet as we have not got our equipment, boots, uniforms or underwear. I will get your letters alright if you keep sending them, but perhaps I may be only allowed to send an official post card soon, but we don’t know yet. Only 22,000 of the 35,000 are going. The companies have been picked already, but the Signalers have heard nothing yet. We have no lamps or helios or bicycles yet, though some battalions have got them. Last night I went up to a campfire and met those men in the same fix. Signalers without lamps, stretcher bearers with no stretchers, Maxim gun men without a gun, transport drivers with no autos, soldiers with no uniforms. It is quite a job to clothe, feed and house a mushroom growth city of 36,000 men, besides training them. We established stations around the hills yesterday. The camp is in a valley.

Letter – We have all just now – August 29, 1914

Drawing of round tent

We have all just now passed the camp Docs and got a second dose of typhoid serum in us. They have put it in with a needle as big as a tent peg. The dope is just now running its course of destruction.

We will have a signaling test pretty soon, and are getting busy to pass it. We are doing semaphore and morse all the time.

The gang in our tent are: Sergeant Cliff – an electrician from Toronto, a great man to chase after our end of the work and eat, Corpl. Esterbrook who comes from Torquay and knew Aunt Gertrude, Jones the Bursar’s boy – as messy as a cricket, and 2 Flints, Roy and E. R., two boys, Fielding, a bank clerk, Gravely, a husky swimmer who swims across the Bay in Toronto, (freckles all over), T.S. Glover, an English boy from public school, Jones R. who eats with his mouth open (bits in agony), Dermont, also boy, Behan, A farmer from Ontario, strong, clever, and of course yours truly. Most of the people seem to have either blue eyes and fair hair or grey eyes and reddish hair. We have to take signaling duty tomorrow between the camp and headquarters. Maybe it will be difficult with immobility of arms. Then a field day for us tomorrow. A Blue army is retreating after a raid on the camp side of the river, (over the pontoon), and its rear guard is a battalion of 1000 men or so, and some guns. A Red army is chasing it, having 3 battalions and some guns and a little cavalry. We are Red. A field telegraph is going to be laid unless it breaks down, (last time a horse got caught up in it, and stampeded an artillery battery over the line, scattering it over the country). We will be doing mostly dispatch, running between the companies and battalions. We bring flags, water bottles and haversack, and leave our packs behind in the tent.

There are an awful lot of Englishmen in this camp. Over 60% at least. You can hear the Cockney, Yorkshire, Essex accents and can hear them scrap and argue and as they do in England – like sparrows.

Seale was in this tent last night, and we swapped jokes and riddles about dogs and eggs and the old… and a half story. He got a cold in his eyes and was not communicative till the riddles began. They call him Red. We had a competition in picking up stations and getting the message through, and I and the Sergeant wont the contest with laurels.

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