When war was declared, it was determined the 48th would send a battalion overseas; the regiment gathered at a camp in Long Branch, Ontario and began training men for war. On the 27th of August, 1914, they were ordered to Valcartier, Quebec, where the entirety of the 1st Canadian Division was mustering in anticipation of being shipped to England. Acland is listed as being one of the officers of the 48th Highlanders (Beattie: p.20).
When the Canadians arrived in England, they eventually found themselves on Salisbury Plain, where they fought boredom, hastily assembled living conditions and torrents of rain while training and waiting to be shipped over to France. In the wee hours of February 11th, 1915, the bulk of the men had received orders and began marching out of Salisbury Plain, however, Acland was not among them. “Many officers and non-coms had been left behind to taste bitter disappointment…. Lt. Acland and Lt. Livingstone were drilling reinforcements for the British at Falmouth” (Beattie: p.35).
In the spring of 1915, while Acland was drilling recruits, the rest of his regiment marched up the line to the Second Battle of Ypres. Best remembered as the first battle where the Germans used poison gas, Ypres was a great Canadian victory, but an extremely costly one for the 48th Highlanders: Out of an effective force of “912” officers and men before the battle, afterward “the whole Regiment numbered about 150 –less than 200 when the band and transport were included….The only survivors of No.s. 2, 3, and 4 Companies were men who had been detailed on various fatigue parties, remained at the transport lines through illness, or had somehow contrived to escape” (Beattie: p. 79).
“The casualities of the Battalion between April 19th and May 4th (and they were negligable except in the battle itself), as computed at time of writing, [pub: 1932] were: 20 officers and 651 other ranks. Of these, 5 officers and 218 other ranks were killed or died” (Ibid).
This is the proud, but shattered force that Peregrine Acland rejoined in the spring of ’15. “During Wednesday (28th) [of April 1915] the base company arrived from England and the Battalion’s strength grew to a few men over 300, all ranks. The draft was made up of 48th Highlanders left in England and men of the 17th Battalion, wearing khaki kilts. Amongst the officers to arrive were: …Lt. P.P. Acland… (Beattie: p. 82).
After fighting through Festubert in the spring of ’15, there is a lull for the 48th, as they are rotated out of the line and back to Aldershot, being inspected by Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden in July. Acland isn’t mentioned specifically again until “just before Christmas [of 1915]… Lt. P.P. Acland was promoted Captain and given command of No. 2 Company” (Beattie: p.105).
“Throughout the winter [of 1915-16] many men of the Battalion specialized in No Man’s Land prowling and the German wire and listening posts were exactly spotted. Lt. P.P. Acland until in command of a company, had prowled the front nightly. Patrols worked constantly and brought back word of strongly held points –judged by the amount of guttural conversation –of tramways and ration hours, German patrols and No Man’s Land wire repairers. This tour saw much nocturnal activity” (Beattie: p. 108).
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If I recall correctly, Sassoon was a great one for prowling about on his own as well.
In my next post there are some extended stories about Acland in battle; most of the dry details (at such and such a date so and so appeared, etc) are now out of the way.
All quotations taken from Kim Beattie’s, 48th Highlanders of Canada 1891-1928. Toronto: published by the 48th Highlanders of Canada, 1932.