“UNUSUAL VIEWS OF SHORNECLIFFE”: Familiar sights to the men of the 18th

A faded article in a local paper from over 100-years ago. The fades images do not offer much in the way of information as they lack detail and definition. The text offers some information about the images, but the locale is not known to many of the residents of Galt, and yet, there would be a familiarity to many of the residents that were English born from Kent, now living in Canada.

Why would the residents of Galt care about a seaside spot of land 3,000 miles away? The views do not appear to be “unsual” in any remarkable way and perhaps the verbosity of the headline caption writer can be forgiven or the headline is giving recognition that the readers of the Galt Reporter are not familiar with a military facility.

GDR July 26 1915 Page 1 Unusual Views of Shorncliffe

Source: Galt Daily Reporter. July 26, 1915. Page 1.

Some of the men of the 18th Battalion would have been native to the Kent area, but many would not be and this article would give soldiers from Galt, Preston, Hespeler, Blair, and Ayr some idea of the facilities in the area adjacent to the camp in which the soldiers of the 18th were stationed during their training in England. The 18th Battalion was not based at Shorncliffe but at West Sandling, only about 6-miles away. They may have been familiar with these images and places and some of the family and friends would take comfort in seeing some of the sights their soldier sons and husbands were seeing.

Map of Shorncliffe and Sandling

Google Map capture showing Sandling in left mid-section of map relative to the Shorncliffe Redout (Shorncliffe Military Camp) and Beachborough in the top center of map. No scale.

The article is not entirely accurate as to the location in which the troops where quartered. The 18th Battalion was quartered at West Sandling and trained at Tolsford Hill and other locations in Kent. They would have gone to Shorncliffe Army Camp for administrative reasons or to utilize facilities not available at their camp or had visited the area to meet comrades and friends assigned to other battalions in the 2nd Contingent CEF that may have been stationed there or where cared to at the Moore Barracks Hospital.[i]


The high lying Shorncliffe camp near the southern coast of Kent, where the Canadians are at present in training. Eddy Wood Institute and the Ross Barracks where many of the men are quartered lie at the north of the camp, and the road seen in the picture runs south to Seabrook and the famous old Cinque port of Hythe. The view Risboro lines shows the married men’s quarters of the camp, now filled with Canadian bachelors, while the Queens Canadian Military Hospital at Beachborough, two and a halft miles away, is the Elizabethan mansion which the Canadians and Anglo Canadian residents of London presented to the War Office at the outbreak of the war. Col. Donald Armour describes it as being “gloriously situated and an ideal place for convalescents.”

Source: Galt Daily Reporter. July 26, 1915. Page 1.

s-l1600 Eddy Wood Institire and Ross Barracks Shorncliffe Camp H.B.F and L No.612

Eddy Wood Institire and Ross Barracks Shorncliffe Camp. H.B.F and L No.612.

The top-left image is of the Eddy (Eddie) Wood Institute. This was a “soldiers home” [sic] that sold refreshments and beer and soldiers could unwind and relax playing billiards and other games.

Canteen at Eddie Wood Institure Source Dover and Folkestone During the Great War Mickeal George Christine George Page 49

Canteen at Eddie Wood Institure. Source: Dover and Folkestone During the Great War. Mickeal George and Christine George. Page 49.

The institute had been named for former commander of the Shorncliffe Camp in 1895, a Major-General “Eddy” Wood.[ii] Without doubt, the sudden influx of the 2nd Canadian Division with its 15,000 men in the area would have put a strain on all the private and military recreational facilities and the YMCA did yeoman’s work picking up the slack and filling in with its own facilities to meet the demand.


Risborough Lines. Shorncliffe Camp. H.B.F and L No.660.

To the right of it is a scene of the Risboro [Risborough] Lines. This appears to be a series of row houses used from married soldiers and may have been converted to general quarters during The Great War. As the picture of the Camp Kitchen presents single floor barrack buildings that may have been built near the two-story buildings to service the cooking and food needs of the men in that part of the camp. Of note are the men that are not in uniform. Perhaps contractors that bring in supplies, such as the tree limbs used for the camp stoves seen in the background. The term “lines” appears to be a local affectation at the Shorncliffe Military Camp as this term was used to describe the different streets that were lined with barracks.[iii]

Source FB Group Kents Historical Sites

Camp Kitchen, Risboro Lines. Shorncliffe Camp. H.B.F and L. Source Kent’s Historical Sites Facebook Group.

The last photograph is of the Queen’s Canadian Military Hospital[iv] located in nearby Beachborough, Kent. It was located at Beachborough Manor and was unique as it was a hospital that was affiliated with the Canadian Military infrastructure, but not formally under its control this hospital was under the control of the Canadian War Contingent Association with support from Canadian Lodge of Freemasons in London [England] and did not report to the Canadian High Commission in London, England. It was opened in the residence of Sir Arthur Markham in October 1914. It was an active treatment hospital affiliated with the Shorncliffe Military Hospital (British) with Canadian and British personnel. It served soldiers of other ranks and became an auxiliary hospital to Moore Barrack Hospital (Canadian) on December 1, 1917.[v] This facility was approximately 3-miles by road to Sandling and was convenient to both East and West Sandling Camps. It had the distinction of being the only Canadian Military Hospital operated wholy on voluntary funds and open to all soldiers of the His Majesty’s Dominions. Only 30 of the 3,000 soldiers treated here died.[vi]


A prominent Harley Street surgeon, from Cobourg, Ontario, Dr. Donald Armour, was chief surgeon of this facility[vii], and his affiliation with Coburg led to this city and its citizens giving further support to the hospital. From a letter to a Mr. T.S. Chatterton, of Cobourg, Ontario, Dr. Armour outlines the need for and how the support of the hospital from the city of Cobourg is vital to the operation of hospital and the care of the patients:

“I am having built and it is almost ready for use an operating block attached to the new main building. It consists of an operating theatre, anaesthizing room, a sterilizing room, and – rooms for the preparation and storage of dressings. It is on the same (ground level) as the main building and patients will now be lifted from their beds onto the operating trolley presented by the Girl’s Friendly Society, St. Peter’s Church, Cobourg, run right into the operating theatre where they will be lifted onto the table presented by the Cobourg people resident in Winnipeg, and operated on by the Surgeon-in-chief (presented by Cobourg.)

I propose to call the building ‘The Cobourg, Ont. Operating Block’ and have it set forth on a plate as it has been provided by monies subscribed by the people of Cobourg and immediate vicinity.”[viii]


Dr. Armour would later operate on General George Vanier, later to become Governor General of Canada, and they became fast friends. General Vanier would later relate of his experience with Dr. Armour during a memorial service:

“…I well remember him in November 1918 at the I.O.D.E. hospital in London where nurses and patients loved him equally. He had a way of making you hopeful and wishful of life even when you didn’t care much what happened, and I feel sure that many of his wounded came through because he told them to…I can see him coming into the ward with his quick determined step, his splendid head thrown back, and I can still hear his deep, resonant, laughing voice that literally made those of us who could, sit up: to everyone in the hospital he embodied the spirit of strength and kindness.”[ix]

The photographs on the front page of The Galt Reporter gave the families and friends of the men of the Galt area some idea of there environment, but not their military lives. The training they experienced at London, Ontario, was a poor prelude to the training they now were experiencing in England. The Battalion would continue to form and organize and began to suffer high rates of soldiers being absent without leave[x] as many members of the Battalion, and Galt, were born and grew up in the United Kingdom and wanted to visit family and friends on the British Isles.

The families could take some comfort in the photographs of solid British buildings in one of the most active military camps in the Empire but may not have known that with the wind just right, the men of the 18th could hear the artillery from Belgium, from across the Channel. That dull, distant noise was a preamble to the actual experience of war for the men training and preparing for active service. The men of the 18th did not have much time to dally. They were preparing for war.


18th Battalion May 1915 War Diary with Syllabi of Training for that month.

[i] Many of the members of the 18th Battalion who were ill or injured during training where sent to this facility. As an example, Private Sydney Hampton, reg. no. 53040, was treated for mumps from May 12, 1915, to his discharge on June 1, 1915.

[ii] Possibly Sir Henry Evelyn Wood, VC, GCB, GCMG (9 February 1838 – 2 December 1919).

[iii] War, C. (2019). Formation Of The 2nd And 3rd Divisions. [online] Canada.yodelout.com. Available at: http://canada.yodelout.com/formation-of-the-2nd-and-3rd-divisions/ [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

[iv] It appears that there is no affiliation with Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

[v] Bac-lac.gc.ca. (2019). Canadian Army Medical Corp: Guide to Sources Relating to Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. [online] Available at: https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/Documents/canadian%20army%20medical%20corps.pdf [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

[vi] Armour, D. (1916). Letter to T.S. Chatterton. [online] Canadianletters.ca. Available at: https://www.canadianletters.ca/content/document-2903 [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

[vii] The Poppy Trail. (2018). 1st ed. [ebook] Cobourg, Ontario: Cobourg Tourism / Armistice18, p.10. Available at: https://experiencecobourg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/PoppyTrail_Guide_online_final.pdf [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

[viii] Armour, D. (1916). Letter to T.S. Chatterton. [online] Canadianletters.ca. Available at: https://www.canadianletters.ca/content/document-2903 [Accessed 24 Aug. 2019].

[ix] Vanier, G. and Cowley, D. (2008). Georges Vanier, soldier. Toronto: Dundurn Press, p.270.

[x] See “Our Boys Were Certainly No Angels” for an expansion on this them.

2 thoughts on ““UNUSUAL VIEWS OF SHORNECLIFFE”: Familiar sights to the men of the 18th

  1. Pingback: Matron Bertha Jane Willoughby | Nursing Sisters | Great War | CEFSG

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