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284   DAYS OF PREPARATION

regulations, and undoubtedly the finest in the world, by which a man is taught to become so familiar with his rifle that he will use it in offence or defence as naturally and unconsciously as he would an extra arm or leg.

So interested and enthusiastic did the men become in learning the use of rifle and bayonet in hand-to-hand conflict that orders were issued forbidding practice unless under a competent instructor, owing to the damage resulting to rifles, bayonets, and equipment generally.

The tops and sides of the less-frequented hills were utilized for training in the new art of entrenching. The commonplace pursuit of digging was possibly the most realistic training for the present war undertaken by the troops, although the fact could not be appreciated at the time. The construction of .a narrow trench, from four to six feet deep, in hard, white, sticky, clinging chalk in a drizzling and incessant rain and while encumbered with full pack and equipment was surely a most realistic fore-cast of what was to come.

The laying of water mains in the camps furnished excellent opportunity for combining training with utility, as the art of trench warfare at that period was in a most undeveloped state and digging a drain very little different in principle from constructing a trench.

A day's route marching in "full marching order" in conjunction with the other units of a brigade, or a field day for battalion or brigade manoeuvres, was invariably welcomed, as the countryside surrounding the War Department was of great interest to all ranks. The villages were an endless source of amusement and pleasure, and immediately after the day's work and on Saturday afternoons and Sundays hundreds of the men walked, rode, or bicycled to the surrounding towns and villages to buy souvenirs, eatables, necessaries, and luxuries at the quaint, old-fashioned shops and inns.

The general conduct of the Canadians thronging these villages, if not exemplary, was, at least on the whole, good. Their habitual good-nature and open-handed


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