In my novel I have several scenes where I portray Lieutenant-General Alderson, the first commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during WW1.
He had a tough task on his hands. He did had some experience with Canadians since he commanded the Canadian Dragoons, and the 2nd Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles during the Boer War. In the South African conflict he had developed a reputation for innovative mounted infantry tactics.
It didn't take long for him to realize that the contingent was not ready. In the first few weeks of October 1914 he needed to:
Get the contingent's equipment sorted out since much of each unit's stores was scattered among the various ships of the convoy. Normally, a unit's equipment is on the same ship as the unit for fast disembarkation and combat readiness.
Assess the quality of the officers and men in the contingent and develop a training syllabus to address deficiencies. The weather at Salisbury Plain in the fall and winter of 1914 hampered his efforts.
Address and improve discipline and morale. He was instrumental in opening wet canteens where the men could have a drink without causing problems in the nearby towns.
Lieutenant-General Alderson was born into a military family. He started his military career at age 17 with the Norfolk Artillery Militia. He became a:
Captain in 1886,
Brigadier-General in 1901,
Major-General in 1906.
Lieutenant-General on October 14, 1914. It was on the same date, onboard the Franconia in Plymouth Harbour, that Colonel William’s transferred command of the Canadian contingent to him.
Up to 1914 Lieutenant-General Alderson had participated in the following battles and wars: