The Royal Canadian Regiment and
The First World War - 1914-1919

Surrendered as Stowaway

By: Captain Michael M. O'Leary, orginally published in the regimental journal of The Royal Canadian Regiment, PRO PATRIA 2010

In August 1915, The Royal Canadian Regiment returned to Halifax after a year as the garrison battalion in Bermuda. The Regiment arrived aboard the S.S. Caledonian, which had delivered the relieving unit, the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, to the island. Disembarking on 17 August, the Regiment was required to re-attest all officers and soldiers of the unit for overseas service in Europe because there was some concern whether they were legally able to serve abroad under their Permanent Force terms of enlistment.

By 25 August, with the necessary paperwork complete, The RCR re-embarked on the S.S. Caledonian in order to sail for England. Nearly every man who had served in Bermuda had re-attested for overseas service, though a few opted out to the displeasure of their peers. The willingness of others to serve, however, exceeded the Regiment's capacity to enlist every soldier in Halifax who wanted get to the front. This would lead to The RCR arriving in England with a few more names on the Regimental nominal roll than it had recorded before sailing. Shortly after sailing, seven men would surrender as stowaways and be taken on the strength of the Regiment. The following are brief summaries of their service with the Regiment.

The seven men, and the units they were serving with before departing Halifax, were:

478051 Pte Frederick Freeman Laing

Frederick Laing was a Driver in the Regiment's Depot Company at Halifax when he surrendered as a stowaway aboard the S.S. Caledonian on 27 Aug 1915. The ship had been at sea for less that a full day, but long enough to be sure it wouldn't be putting anyone ashore before continuing to England.

After surrendering himself, Laing was taken on the strength of the Battalion, and initially attached to