Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Upon arrival at Arques the men were met by a guide to lead them off into the darkness to Brigade Headquarters near Blaringhem just after midnight on December 24th. They had been told it was about an hour down the road. The guide, however, lost his way and they were forced to backtrack several miles much to the frustration of the exhausted soldiers. 

It was 3:00 a.m after marching aimlessly half the night when they finally arrived. Billets for the next few days were in the village of Blaringhem and its surrounding farms, near where the Hazebrouck defensive line was being contracted. Intervals of deep rumbling sounds heralded the approach of dawn on Christmas day. It was the thundering of the guns. Bully beef was served for Christmas dinner.

A cigarette card placed in cigarette packages issued by John Player & Sons to honour the Regiment. On the back it notes that the PPCLI was "the first Canadian Regiment to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. It has suffer more casualties and seen more fighting than any other Canadian unit".
Thu, Dec 24, 1914 ARQUES, FRANCE

24.XII.14  BLARINGHEM. The guide provided by the R.T.O. confessed after he had gone some miles that he had never been to BLARINGHEM. In consequence it took until 3 a.m. to cover the 7 miles to that village. On arrival at Brigade Headquarters was informed that we were to billet along a stretch of 2 miles, down the road we had come along. The transport pulled off into nearest field & the troops were gradually billeted the last being got in about 6. Fine, cold. 

Fri, Dec 25. 1914 BLARINGHEM, FRANCE

25.XII.14 BLARINGHEM. Spent morning overhauling packing of the transport. Unluckily Christmas comforts not available. Very fine in morning, then misty, cold, frost. 

Christmas day, 1914 was a day to remember. We just had arrived in Belgium and spent the day digging support trenches. On pay parade the same day, we received five francs which most of us spent on vin blanc at two francs per bottle, though some brought champagne at five francs. It must have been when we reached Blaringhem, A.F. Troce #1520 threw his rifle into a pond. Later he retrieved it. This was at Blaringhem. 

W.J. Popey
Letter from the collection of PPCLI Archives