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22 Volunteers from Berlin (12 August 1914)  

Captain B. Osborne and twenty-two members of the “C” squadron, Grey’s Horse, volunteered and were accepted for overseas service. Fourteen of these twenty-two men were Berlin locals, included twelve privates and Sergeant B. Mitchel and Captain B. Osborne. Initially, 28 men had volunteered from the squadron, but only 22 were even granted a medical exam. In addition to these men who volunteered, the region also reported that many British reservists, who resided in the Waterloo Region, were leaving for the front in the initial weeks of August.

Many Canadian men were turned away for lack of military experience or medical reasons, which explains why 63 percent of the First Contingent were British-born men who were either current or former British regulars. Therefore, the high proportion of volunteers with Anglo-Saxon last names, listed in the articles printed in the region, was not necessarily an indication that German-Canadians or other residents of Waterloo region were uninterested in military service and supporting the British Empire. The first contingent’s composition was a reflection of the enlistment requirements set by the Militia Department of Canada.

(“22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 12 August 1914, “22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914, “Berlin’s Volunteers Depart for the Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914, “Reservists for the Front” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914; “First Ayr Volunteer,” Ayr News, 20 August 1914; K. Radley, We lead, others follow: First Canadian Division, 1914-1918 (St. Catherine’s, ON: Vanwell Publishing, 2006), 46.)

22 Volunteers from Berlin (12 August 1914)



[1] “22 Volunteers Will Leave for Front,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 13 August 1914, p. 10.


Recruiting Ends (13 August 1914)  

On 13 August, Ottawa announced that on the evening of 12 August Canada reached their desired enlistment total. The heaviest levels of enlistment occurred in the west and in central and western Ontario. Too many men had been recruited and it would be the job of Colonel Samuel Hughes to decide how many men from each of the 200 districts would be mobilized. The officers for each regiment would be announced in the next few days, but there was still debate over who would be appointed as the commanding officer of the contingent.

Hughes was very satisfied with the levels of enlistment, even more so because it was all done voluntarily. There had been no effort by the Canadian government or the Militia Department, in Hughes’ eyes, to stir the country towards enlistment. Everyone who would proceed to Valcartier had enlisted by his own accord. In addition to these brave men, one hundred Canadian women would be going to the front to serve as Red Cross Nurses.

(“Recruiting Ends,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 13 August 1914, “Need is Exceeded,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 14 August 1914, “One Hundred Nurses to go From Canada,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 15 August 1914)

Recruiting Ends (13 August 1914)


Berlin’s Volunteers Depart for the Front (17 August 1914)  

On Monday 17 August, Berlin’s fourteen Volunteers, and the other 8 volunteers from the surrounding area, boarded a train headed first to Galt and then Ingersoll. The Berlin contingent was joining the rest of the 24th Infantry Regiment, with whom they would proceed to Valcartier on Wednesday 19 August. At Valcartier the men would be drilled for two weeks, after which 22,000 men would be selected and sent to the front in early September.

The Berlin men marched through Berlin, where between 600 and 800 locals bid them farewell. Many had tears in their eyes as they said goodbye to the men leaving for the front, knowing that this may be the last time that they see these men. “Rule Britannia” was sung as the men boarded the train car. These people gathered again on Tuesday to send off four young British reservists who had been residing in the Waterloo Region, when they too left for the front. Huge patriotic displays like this were typical across Canada; residents cheered for local men who went off to fight for the British Empire.

(“Berlin’s Volunteers Depart for the Front,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 20 August 1914, “Reservists for the Front” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914; “Berlin Boys Appreciated Send-off,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 27 August 1914; Photo Origin: London Free Press, 20 August 1914.)

Berlin's Volunteers Depart

This picture shows the type of mass crowds that gathered to see the volunteers depart for Valcartier in August 1914.



Kitchener’s Advice to Soldiers (19 August 1914)  

On 20 August, the Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph reprinted an article that contained an advice pamphlet written by Lord Kitchener to soldiers in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). This advice was directed to all soldiers, and was to be carried in each soldier’s active service pay book. Kitchener emphasized one’s duty to serve with honour, discipline and steadiness, and most of all to “do your duty bravely, fear God and honour the King.” Kitchener’s expectations for the BEF were also his expectations for colonial forces, including the Canadian Contingent set to arrive in the fall.

(“Advice to Soldiers,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 20 August 1914)

Advice to Soldiers


Canadian Volunteers Mobilize (19 August 1914)  

On 18 August, The Minister of Militia announced that commanding officers throughout Canada were to mobilize the following morning. On the morning of 19 August, troops across Canada began making their way to Valcartier. It was also announced that a total of 22,218 men would be selected, from the 25,000 men who would soon arrive at Valcartier, for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. A detailed list of what personnel would compose the 22,218 can be seen in the article published in the Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph here.

(“To Mobilize Tomorrow,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 20 August 1914)

Canadian Volunteers Mobilize


Explanation of Military Terms (20 August 1914)  

With recruitment ended and troops from across Canada making their way to Valcartier for training, it became evident that Canadians needed to understand the various military terms that would be used in war news articles. Here you can see a list of definitions that the Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph provided their readership with on 20 August 1914.

In addition to explaining military terms, local newspapers also explained the time differences between all of the belligerent countries. This was important, as not every country worldwide had adopted standard time by the outbreak of the war; some areas were still using ‘local time.’ By explaining what time it was in places like Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Belgrade, Rome and Berlin, the region’s residents were better informed of time differences across the globe and across the areas involved in the war.

(“Explanation of Militia Terms” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 20 August 1914; “War News,” Elmira Signet, 13 August 1914.)

Militia Terms


Full Company From Galt (22 August 1914)  

Galt, Ontario sent almost a full company of the 29th Highland Light Infantry to Valcartier. On 21 August, 115 men in total left from Galt. The company was composed of 30 men from Preston, two or three from Hespeler, and over eighty from Galt. The large number of men who enlisted from this area stirred the patriotism of the Waterloo Region.

When the men left, approximately 12,000 people from all over Waterloo Region, but especially from Hespeler, Galt and Preston, gathered to give the boys a proper send off. .Such large gatherings were characteristic for the departure of volunteers across Ontario. Each of the Waterloo Region men were given pocket knives as souvenirs. As the men marched through Galt, the Preston Silver Band and the regimental brass and pipe band, and other bands played.

(“Going to the Front,” Hespeler Herald, 20 August 1914; “Full Company Goes From Galt,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 27 August 1914; “115 Start From Galt,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 27 August 1914; “Volunteers Leave Galt,” Hespeler Herald, 27 August 1914.)


Full Company From Galt


An Escalating War (27 August 1914)  

As the month of August progressed, stories of German atrocities were relayed to Canadians. A number of Belgian towns and villages had been destroyed. Thousands of Belgians had died in the struggle to protect their country from the Germans, who had violated their neutrality in early August, during the Siege of Liege from 4 to 16 August. By mid August the Germans were said to be occupying Brussels, and the Belgian government was now operating out of Antwerp as a result. Switzerland too was beginning to suffer as well, specifically their food supply, despite their neutrality.

The Germans then began  advancing to  the French border . The French were holding their own against the attacks, aided by the British Expeditionary Force, who had just landed in France. The British Forces were lead by General John French, who was received warmly in Paris. The Russians were making their way towards the eastern German border as quickly as possible. There was however no definitive news on the movements of the British and German Navies. Overall it was evident that the war was quickly escalating by the end of August. Back in Canada, the First Contingent was still being trained, and it was announced that a Second Contingent would be raised.

(“Big Force on Move,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 13 August 1914; “German Army is Advancing through Heart of Belgium,” Waterloo Chronicle Telegraph, 13 August 1914;“War News From Europe,” Elmira Signet, 13 August 1914; “King Albert of Belgium. His Stand Against Germany Forced Britain to Intervene,” Ayr News, 20 August 1914;  “War News,” Elmira Signet, 20 August 1914; “Bombard Unfortified City,” Ayr News, 27 August 1914; “Fled Before the Germans,” Ayr News, 27 August 1914; “Latest Reports Say Allies Are Holding Enemy,” Elmira Signet, 27 August 1914.)