The Blue Puttees

"I pleaded [pledged] myself that Newfoundland would furnish 500 men." Governor Sir Walter Davidson, St. John’s, August 1914

The initial group to be trained and sent overseas in 1914 was dubbed the “Blue Puttees” for the colour of their leg protectors, which became a badge of distinction. From the 970 volunteers, these “First Five Hundred” (actually 537) were chosen as the best for service. Many more would follow.

The Voyage Overseas

"Really, the conditions under which we found ourselves on coming aboard . . . were simply scandalous." Lieutenant Arthur Wakefield to Dr. Cluny
Macpherson SS Florizel, October 1914

On October 4th, 1914, the SS Florizel, a Bowring Brothers Limited ship, departed with the First Five Hundred aboard, joining a Canadian convoy offshore. The ship was ill prepared to carry troops. The men kept their minds off cramped, squalid quarters and terrible food with entertainment, lectures and religious services.

"Our poor little ship [SS Florizel] looked more like a canoe compared to the Canadian ships." Recollections of Private James Francis Hibbs Newfoundland Regiment, mid-1900s

Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou