Plain the lads from overseas had reminders of every stage in British history; relics of the days of the Britons, Celts, Romans, Saxons, and Normans were about them, while the quaint villages at every cross-road were typical of modern rural England. But to the future visitor Salisbury Plain will have new and dominating interest—to all time it will live in the memory of man as the spot where a vast army, gathered from the widely scattered British Empire, was trained to go forth to battle for human liberty.
Just a mile from Stonehenge and crossing the Plain from north to south almost parallel to the Salisbury-Devizes road and two to three miles farther east flows the River Avon. This river is not the Avon of Shakespeare and is nowhere, under normal conditions, more than a few yards wide. Situated on the Avon and around the border of the Plain are many deeply-shaded hamlets consisting as a general rule of some twenty or thirty thatched and ivy-covered cottages, a small stone church, usually dating back two or three hundred years, and one or two of the inevitable wayside taverns so common to the English countryside.
In 1900, the War Office secured an irregular area on Salisbury Plain, "approximately twelve miles long and six miles wide, for the purpose of a training ground for the Regular Army and Territorial Forces, and, in addition to the Barrack at Tidworth and the permanent camps at Bulford and Netheravon, ,tents were erected for the summer training of the troops at Pond Farm, West Down North, West Down 'South, Bustard, Rollestone, Hamilton, Fargo, Lark Hill, and Durrington camps on that portion of the area west of the River Avon; and at Bulford, Park House, Tidworth Park, Perham Down, Windmill Hill, and Tidworth Pennings camps, east of the river. Extensive rifle and artillery ranges were constructed and Salisbury Plain became the Head-quarters of the "Southern Command."