HISTORY OF WORK POINT BARRACKS
by Jack Bates
PART 4 — 1907 to 1918
Changes at Barracks
Several changes in the staff at the Work Point barracks have been made as the result of the departure of Maj. Muspratt Williams. Captain Ellison is given command of the Royal School of Artillery and command of the R.G.A. at the barracks.
The members of the garrison sergeant’s mess, Esquimalt, will hold a dance at the Fives Court, Work Point barracks, on Tuesday evening next at 8 o’clock. The sergeant major, staff sergeants and sergeants of the Fifth regiment, R.C.G.A., have been invited to attend.
For Moral Reform
A meeting in the interests of moral reform will be held by the citizens of Esquimalt district on next Tuesday evening at 8 o’clock, at the Soldiers and Sailors home. Mrs. Spofford and others will address the meeting, at which J Jardine, M.P.P., will preside. All interested are requested to attend.April 17, 1908
United Service Golf Club Will Hold Handicap Competition on Saturday Week
A golf competition will be held at the United Service Golf Club links a week from tomorrow when a mixed foursome will be played between some of the prominent members of the club. The officers of Work Point Barracks will entertin the players and their friends at tea after the game is over. The game will start sharp at 2 o’clock and the competition will be open to all. Members intending forming a foursome requested to send in their names to the secretary so that handicaps may be arranged for.April 25, 1908
WOULD BE DESERTERS
Taken By The Barrack Police While Taking Scotch Leave
Four members of the Ordnance staff, Work Point barracks, caused considerable excitement in Esquimalt yesterday. Under the influence of liquor they left the barracks, their avowed intention being to discard the queen’s uniform and make their way to the other side of the line. They started down the road with a swagger, and according to report, accosted civilian pedestrians and confidentially recounted their plans.
Unfortunately for their scheme and prospective escape, word had reached the barrack police. The latter lost no time, catching the delinquent Tommies just as they took to the railway track in a mad rush for the city. They were brought back under guard and summarily placed behind the bars.
April 26, 1908
MORE MEN REQUIRED TO MAN FORTRESSES
Officer of Permanent Corps Says Garrison Should be Doubled
About double the force at present maintained is needed to efficiently man the Esquimalt fortifications. So stated an officer of the permanent corps in conversation yesterday afternoon. He stated that there were a few over a hundred men on duty at Work Point barracks, and this number marked the full establishment provided for by the Dominion government. When the Imperial government had control there had been over 600 men, including officers and men, ready for the defence of this point in the event of such an emergency arising.
The present force consisted of approximately 100 artillerymen, 40 engineers, and 60 divided between the army Service, the Army Pay and the Army ordnance corps. This little band was supposed to look after no less than five distinct fortresses, namely, Rodd Hill, Black Rock, Macaulay Point, Duntze Head and Belmonte. To even the lay mind he thought that the situation would appear ridiculous. Of course it was quite impossible that from the two hundred, sufficient teams could be found to man each of the guns now in commission. But he wanted to know what would be done in the event of casualties. The most sanguine could scarcely expect to enter and emerge victorious from an engagement without losing a man. And what would be done if the present establishment were called on to defend Esquimalt and men were killed ? As far as he could see, the teams, whose numbers were depleted, would have to cease operating of one gun – the winning of a material point for the enemy.
He contended that the only proper way to manage affairs at Work Point was for the federal authorities to provide for the maintenance of the same number of men as did their predecessors. At first, he pointed out, the reason given for placing so small a garrison at this point was that it was almost impossible to obtain recruits. That argument could not be advanced at the present time. The recent financial depression had resulted in throwing large numbers of men out of employment. Many of those in their search of a means of sustenance had turned to the military service. He knew for a fact that there had been so many applications at Work Point that it would have been possible to have doubled the garrison had such instruction been received. But it could not be done. The establishment called for a force of the size now in barracks. None over the number specified could be sworn in and, consequently, many of the would be Tommies had to be turned away, disappointed in their ambition to accept the “Queen’s Shilling.”
Another evidence of the dilatoriness of the Dominion government that is causing considerable dissatisfaction among the officers and men of the Work Point garrison is their hesitation in mounting the 9.2 guns brought to this station by the Imperial authorities. They assert that the expenditure of something like $10,000 is all that is necessary to put the Signal Hill fortress in proper shape. And they claim that it is a shame that this heavy ordnance, which is of the most modern type, having an immense range and remarkable penetrating power, should not be mounted, so as to enable the artillery teams to do necessary training. They think that this negligence is the more noteworthy owing to the fact that the Signal Hill fortress will, when completed, be the most powerful of the Esquimalt defences. It has a commanding situation. No ship of war could come anywhere within miles of the port without being descried by men stationed behind the buttresses of the hill. And, besides, as stated, the power of the 9.2 guns would give the local garrison an opportunity to seriously disable an approaching vessel before it could come close enough to attack the local fortresses in earnest.
Desertions from the present garrison, it is stated, are not as numerous as is generally believed. This is accounted for by the fact that the Canadian military regulations are not as stringent as those in vogue in connection with the Imperial troops. Any man entering the local service may obtain a legitimate discharge on payment of $15 providing he presents his application within three months from the date of signing on. At the expiration of that period he must, if he then makes up his mind to doff his soldier’s garb, pay $2 for every month of his term that he has not served. In this way the soldier is given plenty of time to make up his mind as to whether he wishes to continue the work for the customary three years. On this account, there is not as much dissatisfaction and, consequently, fewer take “French Leave.”
May 30, 1908
SOLDIERS IN CAMP
Royal Garrison Artillery Went Under Canvas at Rodd Hill Yesterday
The Royal Garrison Artillery went into camp on Wednesday morning at Rodd hill. Practically all the Work Point force has gone under canvas and will remain there for over a week. During the outing both officers and men will be subjected to a rigid course of training. Actual firing commences on Monday. In the morning the 6 inch guns will be in use and during the afternoon the 12 pound ordnance will be brought into active play. A moving target, towed about the straits within sight of the fort, will be utilized as a mark. It is understood that the different gun teams of the corps are out for records so that some exceptionally hih class shooting is expected.
July 11, 1908
A CERTAIN VAGUENESS CONCERNING CHARGE
But it is Fairly Certain That Court – Martial Did Take Place
There was a court martial before Col. Holmes, D.O.C., and a board of officers at Work Point barracks yesterday. It will be concluded today when sentence will probably be given the prisoner, one of the ordnance corps.
The court martial was held with all the secrecy possible under the King’s Regulations, and enquiry at the barracks elicited much information that was more or less contradictory. The rank and file didn’t know what had happened when the ordnance man was haled before the officers who sat as his judges.
“I’m his bloomin’ comrade, ‘elp me, and I don’t know anything about it,” said a fellow soldier, fresh from Signal Hill. And that was the extent of the knowledge of the majority of those in barracks as far as they were wiling to state.
Col. Holmes was asked about the court martial. He said: “I have nothing to say.”
Another officer was asked. He said “Well really, you know, its against the King’s Regulations and -.”
A Colonist reporter visited the barracks. Of course it was assumed gunners and engineers and army service corps and ordnance corps, and all the other corps of the little garrison would be full of the thing. One of their company was being tried before a board of officers. His liberty was in danger.
“What was the court martial about ?”
“That; oh it was Shorty who borrowed the gramophone records. There was “Break the News to Mother,” “Quit yer ticklin’, Jock” and some others. Sure. But I don’t what happened to him. Ask the G.M.P.”
The G.M.P. was in the canteen and there was a long foaming breaker before him.
“The court martial – Oh yes, it was Bill for desertion. But he ain’t sentenced yet. He gets it tomorrow.
An engineer, who was calling to the canteen sergeant to “make it a pint” said it was one of the ordnance fellows and nobody took any note of them, anyhow.”
“Have a beer won’t you.” He said.
Just then a perspiring gunner found the intruder in barracks and informed him: “The sergeant major says you ain’t allowed in barracks.” Before the visitor went through he learned that there had been a court martial and that it had been upon a man of the ordnance department for desertion; (or) for taking gramophone records; (or) for breaking leave; (or) for straggling; (or) for many other crimes against the regulations that are laid down by order of His Majesty for the governance of the troops who garrison his overseas possessions.
August 4, 1908
The funeral of Sergt. Murdoch J. Murray, R.C.G.A., who was drowned on Sunday, will take place from the Work Point barracks today at 9:30 a.m. The deceased was a native of Nova Scotia, and 25 years of age. Interment will take place in the Soldier’s cemetery, Esquimalt.
FIFTH REGIMENT IS AGAIN UNDER CANVAS
Annual Camp Instituted at Macaulay Point – One Company at Esquimalt
The Fifth Regiment, R.C.A., went into camp on Sunday. The regiment paraded at the drill hall at 10 a.m., and headed by the regimental band marched by way of Government street to Pembroke street, where it “entrained” for Macaulay Point and Esquimalt. No. 2 and 3 companies debarked at Lampson street and marched to Macaulay plains, where the quartermaster’s department had raised the tents and marquees and made camp in readiness for the coming of the two companies. There were, in consequence, no tent pitching competitions this year. No. 3 company went on to Esquimalt and took up its quarters in one of the big abandoned barracks of the naval yard. This a new feature of this years’ annual camp. No. 1 company, instead of going under canvas with the two other companies, at Macaulay plains, and working with a battery of antiquated thirteen pounders, while the other garrison companies worked with the six inch disappearing guns of the fortress, is now no longer a field artillery unit. Its work hereafter is to be to man the ante torpedo pieces of the defences of Victoria. The gunners of No. 1 company will work on the twelve pounder quick firing guns emplaced at Black Rock and Duntze Head to protect the entrance to the harbor, and while, in theory, attempts are being made after nightfall to make a dash into the harbor by torpedo boats, the gunners of No. 1 company will man the quick firing guns to repel such attacks. Searchlight will also be used in all probability. The barracks used by this company are most comfortable, being provided with cots and all barrack room impedimenta, and the officer’s quarters have all the comforts of home. Meanwhile No. 2 and No. 3 companies will live under canvas, and spread on Macaulay plains are rows of the usual military tents. At one side are the officer’s quarters, with a big marquee for the officer’s mess. Beyond the men’s encampment, too, are the tents of the sergeant’s mess, with comfortable marquees. In the centre of the camp, where, from a flag pole flies the Union Jack, is the notice board where the adjutant prints his daily bulletins, and where the camp police assemble to receive their daily instruction. Mr. Fredericks, the same caterer who had charge of messing the camp, is again in charge this year. He has erected his mess tents, cook houses, etc, and with himself and his wife in charge at Macaulay plains and assistants at the naval yards, expects to give the same satisfaction that he gave last year.
The parade state of the regiment, while not too strong, showed that a number of recruits had recently been put on strength. In order to strengthen the regiment the officers have recently been “weeding out” the delinquents and all who fail to take the requisite amount of interest in training. The parade state showed a total of 225 men on Sunday. No.1 company, under Capt. Booth, total - led 83 men, and No. 3 company, under Capt. Harris allowed 62. There was also a staff of ten, and the band. Lieut. Col. J.A. Hall, who had just returned from the Tercentenary celebration at Quebec, accompanied by the contingent from Victoria, did not resume command, and the regiment went into camp under command of Major J.P. Hibben. Lieut. Col. Hall resumed command yesterday.
As usual the artillerymen left camp yesterday morning after breakfast, and after their days work in the city returned in the evening, and after dinner, went to work. No. 3 company went into the fort at Macaulay Point to practice on the guns, and No. 2 company practiced infantry work on the plain. The regimental band meanwhile gave a concert in camp. There were many visitors. At Esquimalt No. 1 company practiced aiming with the twelve pounders. Crews were placed on three guns and some good work resulted. The men of No. 1 Company are very comfortably placed in the barracks in the navy yard, and to make their evenings more pleasant a piano has been placed in the barracks. At Macaulay Point camp the programme is that No. 2 is to work with the guns, on Wednesday and Friday of this week, while tonight and Thursday No. 2 company’s gunners will go into the fort. A band concert will probably be arranged for next Sunday after hours and on the second Saturday in camp the field sports will take place. A parade will also be held.August 15, 1908
MACAULAY CAMP IS INVESTED BY INVADERS
Esquimalt Contingent Fell Upon the Neighboring Camp – Fall Was Great
Last night the sound of heavy guns reverberated through the city for the six inch guns of Fort Macaulay were used with service ammunition with full charge for the first time last night, when No. 2 Company’s gunners put in their practice firing, in readiness for the competitive shooting of Tuesday next. At Esquimalt, where the shooting with service ammunition with the twelve pounders commenced on Thursday night, practice was continued last night, and the competitive firing will be held on Monday. The gunners have been making good practice and if they do as well in the competitive shooting the local garrison should make a good showing when the returns for the Dominion are published.
There was a night invasion at Camp Macaulay in the small hours of early morning yesterday. There had been a smoker at the barracks, where Major Currie and his command, No. 1 Company, are in camp, and when the last song had been given the last chorus sung, someone suggested that a visit be paid to those who slept at Macaulay plains. In columns of fours the invaders marched from Esquimalt as the city hall clock chimed one, and about half an hour later Capt. Winsby awoke from a dream hearing the returns read again showing his company had excelled all others in the Dominion to find the canvas of his bell tent toppled about him and hear ruthless invaders pulling at the canvas, meanwhile singing, with true melody: “We’re here because we’re here”. Capt, Harris struck out lustily with a top boot, seeking to land against the form of a tall man who looked in the dark like the major of No. 1 Company. Meanwhile, awakened artillery officers wrestled and grappled with invading officers who sought to bring down their tents. In all three tents were down, and the occupants were squirming from, the wrapping folds of the canvas, while the men from Esquimalt smote them hip and thigh as they crawled from under.
In undress uniform, in one case a sheet wound about, with two feathers sticking up, a la Siwash chief, in another case some underclothing, in another pjamas, another a great coat, the awakened mess assembled and welcomed the guests from Esquimalt.
“Sorry we’re not dressed better to receive you,” said Capt. Clark, whose feathers shook as he succumbed to temporary ague.
“Excuse the earliness of our call,” said Sergt. Major Nesbitt.
Then again the singers sang. It was “Good night, Colonel, we’re going to wake you now,” they sang.
The songs all seemed to have a strange keynote of sleep about them. There was not much elsewhere. The singers sang, “He’s sleeping in the Klondike vale tonight,” “Asleep in the deep,” “Sleep, Kentucky Babe,” “Disturb him not, but let him sleep,” and others.
Incidentally there were speeches and when the morning sun was clothing itself with sufficient sunshine to peer over the eastern hills the invaders fell in. They marched off at the slow march with the goose step of funeral time, clashing some tinware in the minute time that vied with the big drum’s notes in the “Dead March” and Camp Macaulay closed its weary eyes and slept.
August 18, 1908
Recommend that the request of Captain H.T. Hughes to allow of the treatment of 20,000 fir blocks (to be used at Work Point barracks) with creosote at the city plant, be granted; the expense connected with this work to be borne by the militia department and without interference with city work.
August 24, 1908
An example of politics being communicated by Federal politicians at the time.
HON. WM. TEMPLEMAN
I voted for a secret treaty with the Asiatic Nations, which means that Canada may be flooded with Chinese and Japanese at any time they see fit to come to us.
I voted against Better Terms for the province of British Columbia.
I voted against the wishes of the working classes in supporting the immigration policy of the Laurier administration.
I have never attempted to advance the army or Navy in Canada in thought, action or deed. In fact, the ships have practically deserted Esquimalt, and the Work Point Barracks, which had previously under the control of the Imperial government, had a fighting strength of three hundred and fifty men. Under my government, the total fighting strength stands at one hundred and thirty. We promised that the full strength would be maintained, but we are short two hundred and twenty men.
I claim credit in my little booklet for having been instrumental in spending sixty five thousand dollars at the outer wharf to build an immigration shed to house Chinese and Japanese. Run out and have a look at it before you vote on Monday, and tell me if you think it is intended for anything else.
I refused to stand by my guns and compel the grand Trunk Pacific to begin construction at the Pacific coast simultaneously with the beginning of the work at Winnipeg, and withdrew an amendment to that effect because President Hayes asked me to.
I told the residents of Victoria West my intentions regarding the Songhees Reserve, but Mr. Boscowitz has written a letter to my newspaper, saying, “The Songhees Reservation ? I defy Sir Wilfred Laurier or Premier McBride to remove these Indians or take one foot of their reservation from them without the consent of every Indian of the tribe.” This dispenses with the Songhees question forever. Final and unalterable. All same Better Terms.
Ottawa, August 24th.
Statements following from Sir Wilfred Laurier:
HON. WM. TEMPLEMAN
Since telegraphing yesterday, have been wondering if it would help to offer silver mug for best looking baby in Victoria.
HON. WM. TEMPLEMAN
Ditchburn tells me Immigration shed killing you; ask Senator Riley to blow the beastly thing up at once.
HON. WM. TEMPLEMAN
Hoping Hays will return in time; in meantime, push railway connection hard. Victoria always loved railways. If you work it properly, attention, voters will be drawn from Asiatic question. The fight is fierce in New Brunswick.