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Training

The 143rd Battalion was supplied with Ross rifles.3l

Tempo is Changed

It was softly hinted by a subaltern that the Bantams had been having difficulties with regard to appropriate march music.  The tempo to which the music is arranged is not particularly adapted to the requirements of men with short legs, who are required to negotiate a given mile with the same alacrity as men with longer limbs.  In the first march out, it is reported, that the rank and file were woefully out of time with the crashing bars of "Its a Long Way to Tipperary."  As the bandsmen are not required to be Bantams, they wondered what was wrong, but did not grasp the stern facts, and it was left for one of the officers to conceived the brilliant idea of having special marching music prepared for the 130 paces to the minutes stride of his sturdy but short-legged men.3n

"When the trained Battalion returned to Victoria (from Sydney) it was so outspokenly impatient to be sent to France and they became known locally as "The Fire-eaters."  Their attitude may be thought all the more remarkable in view of the high proportion of older, married men in the ranks.

The 143rd was a sober, well-behaved unit with few if any brushes with authority.  They went about their preparation for war with a serious competence, trying to befit themselves for front-line service."1g

May 1916

CONSIDERING SITES FOR ISLAND CAMP - Military authorities are arranging for concentration of local troops for summer training. 3o There will be an Island camp for the accommodation and the training of the battalions of this section of Military District No. 11 which will not be required to go to Vernon this summer. 3o

Col. J. Duff Stuart, the District Officer Commanding (D.O.C.) made a definite announcement to the foregoing effect yesterday and asserted that a number of sites were being considered; plans were being prepared for the erection of the necessary number of tents, and the installation of essential conveniences.  No final understanding has been reached as to where the troops will be taken but, as soon as that point is disposed of, there will be no delay in making preparations.3o

Another matter with regard to which Col. Stuart was not prepared to say anything was the units which would be mustered at the proposed centre.  The 103rd Battalion, Vancouver Island Timber Wolves, would be one of them.  Col. Henniker's quarters at the new armory, Douglas Street, while possibly objectionable for the winter, were not comfortable for the summer.  Apart from the advantage of camp life for certain phases of military training the men of this corps would be more comfortable and better off elsewhere.3o

The D.O.C. expressed the opinion that the 143rd Battalion, "B.C. Bantams" would be scarcely far enough in recruiting to be moved.  Then there was the fact that they were provided with exceptionally fine quarters.  Whether the 102nd Battalion now at Comox would be brought down or whether the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles might be here to go into camp. . .the D.O.C. declared he was unable to say at the present time.3o

It is reported from authoritative sources that in connection with the camp, special attention is to be given to the training in musketry.  This will be good news to the officers and men of the 103rd who have been expressing a desire to take up that phase of their military education as soon as possible.  They only have a few of the modern type of Ross rifles and thus far, have not received their allowance of fifty shells per man for actual firing practice.  In the meantime they have been occupied with work on the sub-target, an ingenious device said to be of great value in the earlier period of instruction in marksmanship.  It is likely that they will be given more advanced training while in camp.3o

On May 22 1916, the 143rd Battalion "B.C. Bantams" was given authority at last evening's meeting of the City Council to open a miniature rifle range at the old rock quarry, Beacon Hill.3q

At the end of the month, it was officially confirmed that an Island Training Centre would be established at Sidney for the summer.  "The units which are to be put under canvas are the 102nd, Warden's Warriors, now at Comox, the 103rd, Vancouver Island Timber Wolves, the 143rd, BC Bantams and the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles.  ...There would be 200 or 300 acres included in Meadlands Park which is owned by the B.C. Electric Railway Co., at the disposal of the officers for the exercise of their men in the special work which will be taken up at the front.  This includes trench digging, bob throwing, etc., as well as field maneuvers."3r

June 1916

On June 30th, orders were received that the 143rd Battalion (700 men) and the 231st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders,(600 men) were to proceed to camp near Sidney.  The 103rd and the 11th C. M. R. would not be coming since they both had received orders to prepare for transport overseas.  In their place, however a detachment of 150 soldiers from the Yukon are also camped at Sidney for training.  According to the Daily Colonist, the move to the camp at Sidney was "very unpopular" with the officers and men affected.  The District Officer Commanding Colonel Duff Stuart, chose to appoint himself as the camp commandant at Sidney.  On July 3rd, the 143rd Battalion marched out of Beacon Hill Park on their way to the training camp at Sidney.  The first night they bivouacked at Prospect Lake.  Transport wagons containing blankets and ground sheets and rations followed the battalion.  The next day they reached Sidney at noon.3u

July 1916

Field Marshall His Royal Highness the Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and StrathearnNear the end of July His Royal Highness, Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, 1st Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and the Governor General of Canada, attended at the Sidney camp for a royal inspection.  His Royal Highness. . .began a personal inspection.  The B.C. Bantams interested him extremely, and he stopped for short exchanges with a number of the men.  Those who wore ribbons, indicating that they have seen previous service, attracted his particular attention...The massed bands were placed in the rear and when the 143rd was called to attention and formed in column of platoon preparatory to a march past in that order its brass band began playing a spirited selection.  The men, led by Col. Powley made a splendid impression in passing the saluting base.  They were small in stature but as steady on their feet as veterans, and obviously proud of the establishment of which they were a part.3v 

August 1916

BAYONET FIGHTING IS BEING TAUGHT - "It could not be better.  Sidney makes a fine summer camp.  Our men are making great headway and we all are able both to work hard and to enjoy ourselves."  This is the opinion of an officer of the 231st Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, with respect to the Island concentration centres.  As much has been said of the unpopularity of the camp it is only fair to point out that such a sentiment is not general.  From what can be learned now the feeling is very different to what was when the troops first moved in.  Then the 143rd, BC Bantams, were reported to be disappointed at the necessity of leaving their splendid barracks at Beacon Hill.  It also was the opinion of military men that the upsetting of the existing organization was not warranted by the good to be derived.  Whatever may have been the original view, and, however well founded it may have been, there is no doubt that officers and men have settled down at Sidney and, having made themselves comfortable, are accomplishing much in preparing themselves for the hardships of a continental campaign.  "One of the most interesting features of our work at present," said the officer referred to, "is the physical training and bayonet fighting course.  Almost all the men of the two battalions have gone through the first branch, which is the physical end of it.  They are now at the bayonet fighting.  This, in some respects, is picturesque, and it certainly should fit the men for the front.  Trenches have been dug across a field in the vicinity of the camp.  On the other side have been strung dummies on wires, who represent figures of the enemy.  The troops are lined up a certain distance away and their duty, at the word, it to charge through the intervening trenches and reaching the dummies, to stick them with their bayonets and toss them over their shoulders are they pass.  As these figures weigh 100 pounds or more and the men have to run a considerable distance before they reach them, besides having to climb through a trench or two, it will be seen that they must be in good physical condition to be able to put much sting into the final grapple."3y 

September 1916

BANTAMS TAKE TURN AT SAANICH RANGES - A company of the 143rd Battalion, BC Bantams, has taken its place at the range and will remain under canvas there for the remainder of the week.  The intention of the military authorities is to have this system continued for the remainder of the summer.  The officers and men of the two units at Sidney will be given alternate opportunities to practice shooting and the experience should prove most valuable. 3z 

October 1916

The Sidney camp will be broken up on October 31st, with the 143rd returning to their barracks at Beacon Hill Park and the 231st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders returning to Vancouver.3ad  The Yukon Company, commanded by Capt. Black, is being quartered in the Willows Camp until they receive their orders for overseas.3ae 

November 1916

Trenches are being dug for training purposes near Beacon Hill Park and a bayonet fighting course will start immediately.  A new miniature rifle range is being constructed close to the camp with a high rock as background. The men will practice musketry regularly over it.3af 

MOUNT TOLMIE IS SCENE OF BATTLE-- Mount Tolmie was the scene of another mimic battle yesterday afternoon, when two parts of the 143rd Battalion struggled for possession of the hill's summit.  For the first time in local manoeuvres, bombers were used, grenades, harmless but strikingly realistic when exploded, assisting in the defence of the stronghold.  Read the full account here.

TEACHING BANTAMS HOW TO USE BOMBS (GRENADES)-- Every member of the 143rd Battalion is to receive a schooling in the use of the bomb, according to plans made by Lieut.-Col. A. Bruce Powley, the unit commanding officer...Arrangements are well advanced with this innovation in view...they will be taught all there is to know about the weapon which has been so effectively used since the introduction of trench warfare.  They will be informed of the principles of its construction; of the importance of handling and igniting it with care; and of the best means of throwing it in order that it may reach its mark.3ag 

December 1916

NIGHT MARCH-- A night march was held by the 143rd Battalion, yesterday, the four companies starting from the Beacon Hill barracks independently with instructions to take different routes and to reach the rendezvous at the corner of Foul Bay and Fairfield Roads at 8:45 o'clock sharp.  These orders were followed explicitly.  On the way to their destination the soldiers marched silently and at a brisk pace and the company commanders arrived at the point named at the hour stated, each practically simultaneously, immediately reporting to Lieut.-Col. A Bruce Powley, the C. O. There the battalion formed up, and headed by the brass and bugle bands, returned to quarters.  On the way back the soldiers were allowed to march easy most of the way and took advantage of the opportunity to indulge in songs and spirited badinage.  Residents in many instances were at a loss to understand what was in progress and The Colonist received several telephonic inquiries as to what victory was being celebrated.3ah 

Next: The 143rd goes Overseas

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