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Charles Leslie Lionel Payne
(1892-1975)
Chapter 4:  Training in Kent (Summer 1915)

Leslie Payne, along with the rest of the 2nd Divisional Train, and indeed most of the Canadian Second Division, spent most of the summer of 1915 training at a series of camps on the south coast of England.  Service and pay records show that he was predominantly, but not exclusively, at Dibgate Camp, Shorncliffe near the town of Folkestone.

Shorncliffe appears to have been a military base at least as far back as 1802, when General Sir John Moore ("the father of the Light Infantry") "began to develop further his ideas for the training of infantry" at that location.  Germans troops were even trained there during the preparations for the Crimean Campaign.  Otterpool was another training camp to the west of Shorncliffe, near Lympne.  Shorncliffe and Dibgate became major training and embarkation camps for Canadian (C.E.F) soldiers during the First World War, and the base for the entire Canadian Second Division.  Shorncliffe is still an army barracks, and at present is home to a Ghurka Regiment.

The following is from notes made by CBP:

The War Diaries of the 2nd Divisional Train of the C.A.S.C. for the summer of 1915 suggest that CLLP was with No. 7 Company of the 2nd Div. Train for most if not all of the period prior to their embarkation for France in mid-September.  They show that, after docking at Liverpool on the Thursday 29th April, the troops somehow travelled to Avonmouth, and then to Shorncliffe, probably by train, arriving at the latter in the late afternoon.  From there they marched to a hutted camp at West Sandling - part of the "Train" got lost, and only arrived at the camp at 10 o'clock that night.  The following few days were spent unpacking, cleaning their equipment and resting, but on the Monday they started their training with a route march.  The first week was busy, with drill, lectures, physical training, inspections and more route marches.

A week later, on Monday 10th May, Nos. 7 & 8 Companies moved to Dibgate Camp.  They were accomodated in tents, the area was very sandy and dirty, the water supply was indequate, and the camp was in an inferior location.  However, in spite of inclement weather for much of the time, their health was reported to be better than that of the soldiers in huts.  On the 22nd May, Nos. 5 & 6 Companies were moved to Newingreen Camp, also under canvas, but located in a good position.

Life at the camp seems to have been quite varied, as evidenced from the following excerpts from published material.  Louis Duff, of the 28th (North-West) Battalion from Moose Jaw, wrote in letters to his uncle and aunt in Saskatchewan:

The two photos shown below were very kindly sourced by Alan & Alison Smith from the Local Studies Library in Folkestone.  They show troops drilling (at left) and exercising (at right) in the fields adjacent to Shorncliffe Barracks during World War 1.

H.C. Singer, in his History of the 31st (Alberta) Battalion, C.E.F. (Calgary, n.p., 1938, p. 22), has written:

Donald Fraser, who was at this stage in the 31st, wrote in The Journal of Private Fraser (ed. Reginald H. Roy, CEF Books, 1998, p. 23): Private G. Broome (440955, "A" Co., 32nd Battn.) wrote the following to his mother in Canada, from Risboro Barracks, Shorncliffe (N.B. he was in the Third Division which arrived in England as the Second Division left for France: Further details of the training programme and daily activities which occupied the men of No. 7 Company can be studied by reference to the War Diaries and various Appendices, including the weekly "Syllab[i] of Training".  Leslie Payne never did keep a diary, so we'll probably never know whether or not he walked into Folkestone in the evenings to learn roller-skating, or learn any details of his extra-mural activities.  However, we do have some information regarding his movements during the training period.  The following have been extracted from his service records and pay sheets:
 
Date Location Event Source
Begin. May Sandling Paid Pay Book
25 May Dibgate Paid Pay Book
6 July Shorncliffe Paid Pay Book
Pro[moted] to Cpl. Auth. Part II O[rder] No 160. Service Records
7 July Shorncliffe Paid Pay Book
Confirmed in Rk. of Corpl. By O/C 2 D.T. Pt. II - 160 & Nom. Roll 3/8/15 Service Records
15 July Dibgate Paid Pay Book
30 July Otterpool Paid Pay Book
1st Aug Assigned $25 of Pay to Constance Hogg, 48 Sackville Street Service Records
1st - 31st Aug Temp[oraril]y Employed as Armourer Service Records
1st - 30th Sep 3rd Class Work Pay. 7 days Service Records

On the 7th July, Leslie Payne was promoted to the rank of Full Corporal, and accordingly his pay was raised by an extra 10c. per day from this date.  It was on this and the following day, according to the War Diaries, that Nos. 7 & 8 Companies were busy moving the 29th and 31st Battalions and their equipment from Dibgate Camp to Lydd.  Leslie Payne received his pay again at Dibgate on Thursday 15th July.  Leslie may have gained his claimed "knowledge of machine guns" - that would stand him in such good stead when he applied for transfer to the C.M.G.C. a year or so later - during the month of August, while he was temporarily employed as an armourer.
 
The BANDOLIER photo shown (at left) was taken by "Treble, of Derby".  Comparisons with other photos of CLLP during this period suggests that Leslie may have visited his family in Derby, possibly during a brief period of leave, some time during the summer of 1915.  He does not have any corporal's stripes on his uniform in this photo, and for this reason it seems likely that it would have been taken prior to his promotion in early July.  It's also possible that he just hadn't sewn the stripes on yet, although I think this is unlikely.  He withdrew a large portion of his pay in June and July 1915 - a total of $82.50 - and the only other times during his service that he withdrew large amounts was immediately prior to going on leave.  Would it also have been more likely to be shortly after a visit to Derby that he would have assigned a portion of his pay to Con?  There is no evidence from his service records that he was granted any leave at this time, and it's possible that this photograph was taken a year later, when we know he had some leave.  In the latter case, however, his uniform and insignia would surely have been those of the Canadian Machine Gun Company, to which he had transferred in June, and which they are definitely not.
On Saturday 17th July, the whole Train paraded with the entire Second Canadian Division at Beechborough Park, having practiced most of the previous day.  They were inspected by Right Honorable Sir Robert L. Borden (then Canadian Prime Minister), accompanied by Sir George Perley (Canadian Overseas Minister), R.B. Bennet, M.P. (and Future Canadian Prime Minister) and Gen. Sir Sam Hughes (Canadian Minister of Munitions and Defense).  On the 20th July, Nos. 7 & 8 Companies  moved the 6th Infantry Brigade from Dibgate to another camp at Otterpool.  On the 28th July, No. 7 Company was allotted to the 6th Infantry Brigade, and the following day they joined them at Otterpool, where there was a far better camp than the one at Dibgate.  On Friday 30th, when Leslie Payne was given his pay at Otterpool, they moved the 29th and 31st Battalions, also part of the 6th Brigade, from Lydd to Otterpool.

On the afternoon of the 4th August, the 2nd Division was paraded at Beechboro Park, Shorncliffe, for inspection by the Rt. Hon. Sir Bonar Law (then British Secretary for the Colonies), accompanied by Major-Gen. The Hon. Sam Hughes, and they were addressed at the Drill Hall later that evening.  On the following day Major-Gen. Samuel Benfield Steele, C.B., M.V.O., A.D.C., Commanding 2-Canadian Division, assumed command of stations.  On the 10th and 11th August, and again on the 14th, No. 7 Company participated very satisfactorily in training manoeuvres with the 6th Infantry Brigade.  Between the 23rd and 26th August, they joined in with the other companies in the much more extensive, and correspondingly less successful, Divisional manouevres.
 
The photo of Leslie Payne seated, with at least three others, on the ground drinking his "rum ration" from a mess tin (above left), was one of a batch sent to CLLP by Ed Pye in 1936, who refers to it thus:
      "His lordship taking his rum ration - The latter I have removed from my war picture album"
On the reverse of the photo, it is inscribed:
    "Will... (?sp) Kent, August 1915"
Presumably Ed Pye was present at the time the photo was taken, and if it was taken in August 1915, it is possible that the photo was taken at Willisborough Lees, where the entire Train bivouacked for two nights on the 24th and 25th August (see War Diary).  It is interesting to compare the line of trees in background of this photo with a similar photograph (right) taken of soldiers training somewhere near Shorncliffe (©Folkestone Local Studies Library & Courtesy of Alan & Alison Smith).

On the 30th, they were told to prepare for an inspection by H.M. the King in three days' time, so they must have realized that their training was shortly to come to an end, and that departure for France, and the War, was imminent.

Chapter 5: The Continent & War (Winter 1915/1916)


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