From Sergt. Wm. B. McCuaig.
January 4, 1917
Sergeant Wm. B. McCuaig, of the 35th Battalion, West Sandling, Shorncliffe, sends the PACKET the following description of a trip he took to Scotland with a party of officers and non-commissioned officers in charge of 156 Canadian Indians. The party left their camp on December 6th and were away till the 11th. They were most hospitably entertained by the people wherever they went.
Sergeant McCuaig says:—
The party consisted of two officers, Mr. Stacey and Mr. Moses, Regimental Sergeant-Major Neill and six 35th non-commissioned officers as follows:
Quarter-master-Sergeant K. Kemp, Sergeants E. Burstow, W. Clow, J. D. Dance, W. B. McCuaig, and W. Laurie, and the 156 Indians, four of whom were dressed in their native costume. On Wednesday, December 6th, we left West Sandling Camp about 9 o’clock, and proceeded to London, arriving at Waterloo station about 11 o’clock. Form there we went to the Union Jack Club and had our dinner. Afterwards the party fell in and marched to Charing Cross station by way of Waterloo Road and the Strand and had a special car in the tube to Euston station. At two o’clock we took the train for Glasgow arriving there at 11:15 p.m. On our way up we were met at the station of Preston by the ladies and served with hot coffee, sandwiches and cake which I can assure you were very much appreciated. On our arrival at Glasgow we were met by the corporation officials, and very heartily welcomed. Afterwards we marched to the Trades Hall on Glassford street and sat down to a very fine dinner. We then met the Lord Provost and were introduces to several of the leading men of the corporation. Immediately after dinner the men were marched to one of the corporation halls on North Frederick street, where they slept for four nights, there being fairly good accommodation for sleeping and lots of hot and cold water.
Our second day commenced by rising at seven o’clock and proceeding to the Trades Hall at 9 o’clock for breakfast. After breakfast the party fell in and were marched to see Glasgow Cathedral, a very ancient place over 700 years old. Several of us had the pleasure of signing the register at the door of the Cathedral. After leaving here we proceeded to the Town Head Baths, where many of the boys had a hot shower and a plunge in the tank, and each morning afterwards the men were allowed to go to the baths before breakfast and have a shower and a swim. On leaving the baths, the party were taken by the Sergeant-Major and marched to the Municipal Building, where they were inspected by the Lord Provost, Sir Thomas Dunlop, and addressed by him for a few moments. While this was going on the picture man was busy with his camera. Before leaving the municipal buildings we were taken all through the main parts, and viewed for the first time the great marble staircase of Glasgow. We then returned to the Trades Hall and had our dinner. After dinnerware were met by five street cars and the corporation pipe band and taken for a car ride round the city, which lasted all afternoon, returning at 5 o’clock to the hall for tea. In the evening we visited the Active Service Exhibition, where we saw Warneford’s Aeroplane that he won his V.C. with, the old observation basket that was that was dropped from a Zeppelin in England, and many other relics of the war. There was also a fine exhibition of the Red Cross work. On leaving here fifty of our party went to Hengel’s Circus and the remainder to the Pavalion theatre and after the show all returned to the hall on Grederick street for the night.
On our third day we started off with a shower and a plunge in the town head baths, afterwards having breakfast at the hall again. At 10 o’clock the party fell in and were taken to two different parties by the street cars to different munitions factories, where we spent a good two hours watching the manufacture of shells and aeroplanes. The sights there were very interesting and the number of girls employed in the different departments was enormous. On returning to the hall we had dinner and were lined up at 2 o’clock again ready to start off. Before dinner the Sergeant-Major picked out 25 men from the party and paid a visit that afternoon to Port Glasgow and Grenock. Of this trip I cannot say much for I was not with the party, but I can say that they had a great reception and a good time while they were there. The remainder of the party went to the main fire station and were shown all through it and had the pleasure of witnessing a trial turn out which only took ten seconds. Other points of interest were the large machine shop for repairing their own engines, the cobbler’s shop where all the firemen’s boots are made and repaired, and a department where they manufactured all their own fire-hose. After leaving we were taken to the city hall and entertained to a fine concert, with Scotch songs and dances and an old Scotch comedian, W. F. France, kept the boys laughing for a long time. In the evening, after tea was over, the boys were sent out in parties of ten under one of their own non-commissioned officers to have a look round the city. I spent the evening myself round the hall and had a very nice time being entertained by the ladies, or you might say the wee lassies. I didn’t get to bed till two o’clock the next morning, as we had to scout about and chase the Indians to their hall. I stopped one night in the hall myself, but slept in the Queen street station hotel afterwards, as the beds in the hall didn’t agree with me at all.
On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Trades Hall and left about 11 o’clock for Edinburgh. On arrival in Edinburgh we were met by a very large crowd at the station, who cheered us as we marched along the street. We marched straight to Edinburgh Castle and on our way up the hill to the castle the big gun which is fired every day at one o’clock, was fired. When we reached the castle we were dismissed, and permitted to roam through the old castle, and take in the sights. After leaving the castle we marched to Farley’s restaurant on Leith street and had our dinner. Owing to the rain which fell most of the time we were in Edinburgh, we remained in the hall all afternoon and were visited by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and members of the Council, the Lord Provost giving us a very fine address. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in sing-song. In the evening we were entertained by the city to a very good show in King’s Theatre. Afterwards we marched to the station and took a special train for Glasgow again. I might say here that during our stay in Edinburgh we had a very fine time under the prevailing conditions had not arrangements been misunderstood we should have had a much better time. When we arrived back in Glasgow we were met by one of the guides and taken to the old hall again where we were treated to hot coffee, rolls and pie before going to bed. The people of Glasgow were certainly kind to our boys and we shall never forget dear old Glasgow and its people.
On Sunday morning everyone was up bright and early ready to start for our trip back to London. After having our breakfast we formed up and marched to Central station, where we took our train at 9:55 for London. All along the route of march we were heartily cheered by the people and they wished us the best of luck when up the line. At the station the Lord Provost and Officials of Glasgow were present to bid us good-bye and before leaving every man was presented with about 25 cigarettes, the Sergeant-Major receiving a nice book on the history of Glasgow. On our way from Glasgow to London we passed through some very fine country and some very large hills. At Preston station the ladies met our train again and served the boys out with hot tea and buns. Our train journey this day lasted till 8:30 p.m. On arrival at Euston station we travelled by way of tube to the Union jack Club and had dinner. That night we slept in the Morley College.
On Monday morning everyone was up and ready to make the last stride in our six day outing. We had breakfast at the Club and afterwards the party was broken up into small groups and sent off to see various parts of the city, being instructed to assemble again at the Club at 12:30 p,m. After dinner our boys were entertained at the show at the Hippodrome, called “Flying Colours.” When the show was over we returned to the Club for tea, remaining there until it was time to take our train to camp, which left Charing Cross station at 8:15 p.m. arriving in camp about 10:30 p.m.
This ended an ideal trip to Scotland and everyone seemed to be of the same opinion and that was that they had had a splendid trip and they all said they would never forget the treatment they received in Scotland.
In a letter to his mother, Sergeant McCuaig says: Russell and I are in good health at present with the exception of a bad cold apiece. The weather of late has been very wet and cold, and it makes it hard to keep clear of a cold. Russell is still in England and is not to go to France till next year, if he goes at all. I am still at the Brigade school and it looks as if I will remain there for the duration of the war. The school was just re-organized the other day and some instructors returned to their Battalions, but I was retained. We have it quite a bit easier down there than they do in the Battalion, so its not so bad. Before I went to Scotland I was anxious to get away from it, but since coming back I have changed my mind and will carry on at the school. I did have a good trip to Scotland and I shall never forget how the people of Glasgow treated us. Why they really worshipped us, and treated us as if we were princes. I made a great many friends while in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and all want me to go back and see them by myself sometime. They say the Scotch are stingy but that is not so over here for we never wanted for anything on our trip. Well you no doubt have read about the big British cabinet crisis. Well it is all over now, and it was a fine change for things were getting in an awful state, but I think they have the right man when they have Lloyd George. Another funny thing was Germany asking for peace just as our new Government was formed. But the peace she offered would be the defeating of the British if we accepted it. If only our people can hold on for another year. Germany will be willing to quit on any peace terms. Just wait till spring and you will hear of some of the biggest battles of the war. The Somme battles will all be in the dark. But we must have lots of courage and strength and be prepared to make practically any sacrifice to further our good cause. I noticed in the paper the other day that six boys of our old company were awarded the Military medal for bravery. They are all fine fellows too. I have received one Christmas parcel so far, from St. John’s Bible class in Broadview Ave., Toronto, and several cards from different Canadian friends. It is fine to hear from them, but it makes one lonely when I think how far away I am.
The Glasgow Daily Record of December 9th, gave a picture of four of the party who visited Glasgow who are full blooded Indians, another of the two officers in charge, and a third of the non-commissioned officers , amongst whom was Sergeant W. B. McCuaig. The Record devotes considerable space to the visit and apparently these red sons of the Empire were given a royal reception.