Here I am in my B & B on Stonehenge Road in Amesbury. John McCrae used to ride Bonfire here for supplies from their camp and other places where they stayed once they finally moved to where there was shelter for their horses. I had to see for myself where their original camp was and what the lay of the land was like around it. It wasn’t the drilling and training that was so terrible in the winter of 1914/1915 but the awful weather that year. Once they’d been there for about 3 weeks, their horses started to fail daily from exposure to the endless cold, rain and wind and also from standing in muck up to their hocks. Many had to be put down.
Today was a beautiful day but it was windy and I could imagine it on a grey, wet and windy day. After they fought for weeks to get shelter for their horses and once about half of the horses had been compromised, they finally got to move to New Copse Farm. I tried to get to it today but it is within the restricted area now and inaccessible. I got within about a mile of it and the other pictures show what the land is like on this part of the Salisbury Plain. Wide open and windswept. The Canadians began their stay up on the northwest corner of the Salisbury Plain.
Just before this I spent a week in The Bear Hotel in Devizes, Wiltshire. It’s still kind of eerie to think that this was the officers mess of the 1st Brigade C.F.A. I was there coincidentally with the course I took from Wisdom University; The Avebury Experience. I had assumed beforehand that we’d be staying in Avebury. The Bear was built in 1559 and McCrae mentioned that the food was good. It still is.
Another place McCrae, Morrison and Cosgrave used to stay was called The Ark. It’s still there, still called The Ark and is now private flats.
The Salisbury Plain is still an artillery range and you can hear the shells exploding when the wind is right.