This Remembrance Day, we’re highlighting an excerpt from Part of Life Itself, an annotated wartime diary that illuminates the military service of Lieutenant Leslie Howard Miller (1889–1979), a Canadian soldier who served in the First World War. Read an excerpt from Miller’s first diary in 1915, here:
Sun., Jan. 10 1915
Bought book yesterday at Russel Langs and decided to commence a war diary. Enlisted in Stoughton, Sask. about Oct. 10, 1914 while I was acting as principal of the School there. Capt. J. Mackay who has since become a Lieut. in the 32nd Battn. was recruiting officer there. Passed physical exam in Weyburn Thurs., Nov. 5. Mobilization in Weyburn was ordered Sat., Nov. 7, and I joined the forces Mon. evening, Nov. 9.
There were about 80 of us in Weyburn, and we drilled for just 3 weeks under Maj. Washington, Capts. Wheatley and Mackay, and Sergt.-Maj. Ames. Geo. Leeson and I lived at the Waverley Hotel a few days until George was sent back to Stoughton temporarily rejected. Then I met W.J. Jolly, a Y.M.C.A. acquaintance from Regina, and he had me live up town with him in his very comfortable room with a fine family who gave me a hearty welcome. The other chaps who had to take quarters in the Post Office and in a vacant store at rear of McKinnon’s were cold, dirty, and lousy, with neither comfort nor conveniences.
We were paraded up to MacKinnon’s store to get gloves one morning. As we halted in line and many of the employees were at windows and doors looking us over, I spied Dick Beckett nearby. He took me to the Fletcher home where he lives and I met some lovely people. Mr. F. is Free Methodist Minister. I met Elias Wood on the street one morning and had a brief chat.
Spent two Sundays with Dick Beckett and the Fletchers very happily. Spent one week-end back in Stoughton. Visited the Weyburn Collegiate Institute one afternoon and heard the Principal teach a class in literature. Went out one night with a picked party to a patriotic concert in South Weyburn School near Maj. W’s home.
We were a mixed lot in point of clothing. A dozen wore khaki, another dozen including myself, had red coats, black riding breeches with white stripe, leggings, and blue cap with white band. We reported in front of P.O. 6 a.m., paraded to the fair grounds singing “Tipperary” for physical drill, breakfast at Tony’s restaurant at 7, rifle drill 8:30 to 11:30, dinner, route march or drill 2 till 5, supper and free for evening. We made a great many 6 mile route-marches in the neighbourhood of the town, as the fine weather favoured that form of “sport”. Spent one day at the rifle range, the most strenuous day of drill, marching, and shooting I have put in. Left Weyburn with a great send-off 9 a.m. Nov. 30 and reached Winnipeg 9 p.m. Maj. W. with 14 cavalry men went to Yorkton, while all the remainder of us came on as infantry to Winnipeg.
We Weyburn men joined D Coy. of 32nd Battn. I became a coy. signaler training under Lieut. Hedley, a Moose Jaw school teacher. A week ago the Battn. organization was altered, and now there are 4 coys and 16 staff signallers. We are stationed at the Exhibition grounds living, eating, and drilling in the various buildings. The 27th and 28th Battns. are stationed in Wpg. also. We all expect to be included in the 2nd Canadian Contingent soon to leave for England. Last Monday we all received our first inoculation with anti-typhoid serum. Some 20 fellows fainted during the operation; understand one officer was among the victims. Some soldiers these Canadians! We are to get two more doses of the same at ten-day intervals.
Am going down to Selkirk Y.M.C.A. to spend evening with Stuart Thompson as I have done many times since I came to Wpg. We usually chat a while, dine at Julius Café or C.V.C., attend service at Trinity Methodist Church, and by the time we get back it is roll-call at barracks. One evening at Trinity Church I met W. Mountford of my class at Regina Normal. Stuart is as full of Nature Lore as ever, retains all his former interest in and zeal for collecting, is busy in Y.M.C.A. work, and teaches S.S. class – certainly makes good use of his time.
Wpg. provides many varied forms of recreation for the soldiers. To me the Y.M.C.A. and Public Baths are most attractive. Old “D” Coy. had a 4-hr. concert for themselves in their barrack room the night following New Year’s. This week the Battn. gave one for selves and friends in auditorium of King Edward School. We have some most amusing entertainers among our number. Bugler Wheelhouse was formerly an English comedian and is very funny, though ordinarily quiet and unassuming. Different churches and societies have opened reading and recreation rooms for us through the city. Most popular are the large room in King Edward School fitted for reading, writing, music, and rest, and the St. John’s Ambulance room at 320 Main, small but cozy, but free lunch is served as a special attraction. The theatres draw large numbers of soldiers into their audiences. Xmas day I saw “A Bird of Paradise” at Walker Theatre, and New Year’s “Peg O’ My Heart” at the Dominion.
Learn more about Part of Life Itself, here.