No time was wasted—line of march was formed immediately and the 27th pushed on to Blaaringham. Here the Division went into camp and the entire force devoted a week to digging trenches, carrying out a scheme of earth-works in view of eventualities which never transpired. Their labours over, the line of march was again formed and after two long and weary hikes over cobbled and muddy roads, a halt was called at Dickebusch and the regiment found itself well within the fighting zone. Wet to the skin, utterly exhausted, no wonder even veterans experienced a shock when regimental orders brought the news that the Princess Pats were "for the trenches" that same night! Only extra emergency could justify such a course; but the fighting spirit rose to the occasion, and it was an eager and willing battalion that formed up late that night—No. 1 and No. 3 companies for the firing line; No. 2 and No. 4 as supports.
Previous to this, Colonel Farquhar, Capt. Buller (Adjutant), Major Gault, and the company officers had been taken over the ground and shown the lines which the regiment was to take over from the 22nd Battalion of French infantry. Needless to say, their welcome from their French comrades lacked nothing on the score of warmth, and when several hours later the Canadian relief actually appeared in the trenches, the welcome became uproarious and the Germans assisted the operations with showers of Verey lights (magnesium flares), followed by a rifle fusilade.
The weather had been atrocious and the trenches in front of St. Eloi, running alongside the road to Wytschaete were little more than open drains with a makeshift parapet not thoroughly bullet-proof—no loop-hole plates, no parados, no drainage arrangements. The men all stood over the boot-tops in water; in some places up to the knees. Rubber boots were worse than useless—the water got in at the top. Foot trouble began immediately. From want of a better name it was called "frost-bite," but the men from Canada knew better than that