At the outbreak of war Salisbury Plain played a most important part as a mobilization centre, and in October, 1914, four of the principal camps—Bustard, West Down South, West Down North, and Pond Farm—were prepared for the occupation of the Canadian Contingent.
On the 16th of October, troop trains commenced arriving at Amesbury, the largest of the villages on the railway, located on the Avon and within a mile of the `\Tar Department Area. A railway siding connects Amesbury and the permanent camp of Bulford, where the first Canadians to arrive at Salisbury Plain were temporarily accommodated. On the succeeding days all the available railway stations and sidings were appropriated and Salisbury Plain was literally deluged with troops; the narrow country lanes and little old world villages resounding with the tramp, tramp, tramp of the infantry, the rumble of the artillery, limbers, and transport wagons, and the clatter of the horses of the mounted troops as they rapidly detrained and passed in apparently endless procession, disappearing up the hills and converging on the four huge camps prepared to receive them. As far as was possible the Imperial Engineers had arranged the camps for occupation. The weather was ,so clear and bright, that, to those arriving in the middle of the day, the heat of the sun in the open in contrast to the deep shade of the villages, was uncomfortably noticeable. Although future circumstances necessitated considerable changes in the disposition of the Contingent, the original plan of the Imperial authorities for its accommodation was that adopted on arrival.
Lieutenant-General Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson, C.B., was given command of the Canadian Contingent when it reached England. While there were several excellent Canadian officers who might have been selected for this important post, it would have been in the nature of an experiment to place any one of them in charge of a large army destined for action in the greatest and