Lorne Scots Arrival

Mobilising the Regiment

The Canadian army unit, which came to administrate Tweedsmuir Camp during the Second World War was originally mobilised on 1 September 1939 as 1 Canadian Infantry Base Depot (1 CIBD) from The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment). Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Louis Keene, the unit, comprising 4 subordinate officers and 49 other ranks, landed in the UK at Gourock, Scotland on 8 February 1940. By early next morning, on 9 February, the unit had arrived and was settling down at Albuhera Barracks in Aldershot.

On 10 June 1940 National Defence Headquaters (NDHQ) in Canada sent a telegram to Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) London, authorising the temporary amalgamation of 1 CIBD and 1 Canadian General Base Depot (1 CGBD - personnel of which were drawn from The Sherbrooke Regiment). The new unit was to be named 1 Canadian Base Depot (1 CBD) and commanded by Colonel ELM Burns, OBE, MC at Headquarters, Canadian Troops, Aldershot. The intention now was for 1 CBD to move

"to France (where it was anticipated that the Candian forces would shortly be operating) and establish itself on the lines of communication where it would perform the function of holding, for short periods previous to their despatch to field units, reinforcements sent forward from the Holding Units in England. The depot would presumably have been set up near the 2nd Echelon, which was to be at Pornichet on the west coast. Before the German advance through the Low Countries, it had been intended that both Echelon and Depot should be at St Valery En Caux."

{Major Stacey's (Historical Officer, CMHQ) 32nd Report of 13 June 1941}

The "German advance" referred to by Stacey in his report was the Second World War event that resulted in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied Forces through Dunkirk. Concurring that it would be foolhardy to dispatch reinforcements to mainland Europe under these conditions, British and Canadian military commanders immediately withdrew their orders and 1 CBD's move to France was stood down. On 28 Ocotber 1940, the same day that the War Office in London commissioned Tweedsmuir Camp, 1 CGBD (Sherbrooke Regiment) moved to Bordon. As a consequence 1 CBD was now staffed only by The Lorne Scots who moved to Guillemont Barracks, Cove in Hampshire. On 5 November 1940 Order No. 23 issued at CMHQ provided that,

"No. 1 Canadian Base Depot, Guillemont Barracks, Cove, under the command of Lieut. Colonel L Keene, ED, will continue to perform the functions of a Disposal Depot."

{Major Stacey's (Historical Officer, CMHQ) 32nd Report of 13 June 1941}

In other words, Keene's unit performed in Cove a function similar to the one they were eventually required to discharge at Tweedsmuir Camp, namely the return to Canada of non-effective personnel.

Personnel on Permanent Establishment (PE Personnel), 1 Canadian Base Depot. Photograph taken by Service Photographic Company, Pirbright, Surrey - #1021 T.

Courtesy of Major (Retired) Albert Goodman, Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment), Regimental Museum, Brampton, Ontario, Canada.

Click the above image for larger photograph and a list of personnel.

Soon after 1 Canadian Base Depot arrived at Guillemont Barracks its personnel were photographed in September 1940. As 1 CBD's register of personnel on permanent establishment changed periodically, this is the closest photographic record available of the unit that eventually came to staff and administrate Tweedsmuir Camp.

Locating Suitable Accommodation

Guillemont Barracks was adjacent to Major-General Odlum's troops. He had complained that the presence of non-effective personnel had a bad influence on his Category 'A' troops billeted close to Guillemont Barracks. But despite making a search for new accommodation 1 CBD remained at Cove, which was immediately north of Aldershot. The matter was brought to the attention of Lieutenant-General McNaughton, GOC Canadian Corps, who, on 3 February 1941, "made a strong representation ... to CMHQ, requesting that action be taken to move the unit (1 CBD) away from Aldershot at the earliest practicable date." On 6 March 1941 CMHQ issued Administrative Order No. 41, authorising a change in location for 1 Canadian Base Depot, which moved to Seaforth Barracks, Liverpool. It was argued that this position had the advantage of being close to embarkation ports. Conversely, Seaforth Barracks was

"[...] within a few hundred yards of the Gladstone Docks, while outside the walls was a battery of anti-aricraft guns and within the confines of the barracks an admiralty wireless station - it was a military objective.

From the time we arrived, in fact within two hours, we were subjected to a great deal of serial attack, which was intensified on the consecutive nights of 1 - 2 May and 8 - 9 May."

{Lt. Col. L. Keene, writing to the Senior Officer at CMHQ - Reproduced in Major Stacey's (Historical Officer, CMHQ) 32nd Report of 13 June 1941}

Although Stacey reported that Seaforth Barracks was not considered "an unduly exposed location" the military objective highlighted by Keene attracted "heavy enemy attacks on Merseyside in May 1941", damaging the barracks so badly that it became imperative for the Depot to be moved immediately. The new location, confirmed by Administrative Order No. 70, issued by CMHQ on 9 May 1941, was King's Regiment ITC, Cairnie House, Formby, Lancashire. Nonetheless, this location was only a short term measure because on 5 June 1941 Colonel Keene telephoned CMHQ, advising that the Depot had moved to Oulton Park, Chester in Cheshire.

By this time Keene was aware that "the organisation of a Transit Depot (Tweedsmuir Camp) to undertake the duties now dealt with by the Base Depot (1 CBD)" was underway. Indeed Thursley village in Surrey was inundated with Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) busily erecting the camp, which was completed by the end of 1941. On 1 November troops from two Companies of 4 Battalion, RCE, who at the time had been attending to some minor works at the camp, were instructed to strike their tents and move into the newly constructed huts, but only until the end of the month.

Meantime, 1 CBD personnel were preparing to leave Oulton Park and on 1 December 1941 they made their way to Haslemere in Surrey. From Haslemere Station 1 CBD was taken by motor transport to Erie Camp, which was at Headley Downs a few miles away. Nine days later, on 10 December, the unit moved by motor transport to Tweedsmuir Camp, Thursley. Upon their arrival the unit was re-designated 1 Non-Effective Transit Depot (1 NETD). There they stayed until 22 February 1947.

A detatchment of Lorne Scots on a visit to Tweedsmuir Camp in the year 2000 Photograph: Courtesy of Norman Ratcliffe

Click the above image for a larger photograph

In the year 2000, fifty three years after the WWII Lorne Scots unit left Tweedsmuir Camp for Canada, a detatchment from the regiment was invited by the History of Thursley Society to visit the camp and parade on the camp's now deteriorating parade ground. The photograph to the right was taken to celebrate this memorable event.