3rd Jamaica Contingent, WWI

Information about the Third Jamaica Contingent, WWI from the Daily Gleaner

March 7, 1916


[Picture] Men Looking Smart in Their Service Uniforms March in Their Hundreds Through Densely Crowded Thoroughfares to Big Transport--Business Suspended in City as Fighters go by--Members of Battalion are Given Sound Advice By Brigadier General Blackden Just Prior to Their Departure from Swallowfield--Memorable Scenes in Kingston Yesterday

"Hark! I hear the tramp of thousands,
And of armed men the hum;
Lo! a nation's hosts have gathered
Round the quick alarming drum--
Saying 'Come
Freemen, come!
Ere your heritage be wasted' and the quick alarming drum
Bret Harte


These words of Bret Harte seemed singularly appropriate to those epoch making scenes which yesterday morning marked the departure of Jamaica's Third Contingent for the motherland. More. Third Battalion of the British West Indies Regiment………………

An Efficient Battalion
This battalion according to one who is some authority I matters military, is probably the most efficient lot of men yet sent out, so far as knowledge of military duties are concerned. They have it is said gone through nearly every detail in battalion drill under the Chief Instructor at Camp, and in a most creditable manner, considering the short space of time during which they have been under training. In route marches they established a record on being timed, and as far as discipline went, their behaviour on the whole was most creditable. Thus the men of our third War Contingent leave with a good record, which it is to be hoped they will maintain and improve when they reach.


The following is a list of officers who embarked with men:-
Major Hart, J.G. V. (Commanding)
Lieut. Gamblen, J. H. (Adjutant)
Captain Cooke, F.H. (Surgeon in charge)
Doctor, Anderson A.A.
Lieut. Allan, A.T.
2nd Lieut,Lord J.L.
2nd Lieut,Horne L.M.
2nd Lieut,Thompson, A.E.
2nd Lieut,Nicholls, E.W.
2nd Lieut,Dawson G.H.
2nd Lieut,Isaacs, F.K.
2nd Lieut,Keiffer, T.D
2nd Lieut,Musson, J.M.
2nd Lieut,Harris, O.D.
2nd Lieut,Hedmann, A.J.
2nd Lieut,Dunlop, A.A.
2nd Lieut,Bacquie, P.S
2nd Lieut,Adam, T.E
2nd Lieut,Davis, A.A.
2nd Lieut,Trelearen W.F.
2nd Lieut,Grant, C.A.
2nd Lieut,Young, L.B.
2nd Lieut,Callway, R.P
2nd Lieut,Beresford, W.M.
2nd Lieut,Daly, J.R.

Comforts Committee

We understand that the Comforts Committee sent aboard a large number of useful gifts for the men.

The Daily Gleaner also sent 1,000 souvenirs of the farewell speeches made by His Excellency the Governor and Brigadier General Blackden to the men on the eve of their departure. These will in due course be distributed.

Sent Back for Trial

The member of a British Regiment who deserted and came back to his parents in Jamaica, was sent back aboard the vessel, under escort to be tried in England. [No list of platoons]

April 5, 1916

[Front Page] FROST BITTEN--Transport with Third Contingent Runs Into a Canadian Blizzard at Halifax, Volunteers Suffer Severely--- 106 Men removed from ship to Hospital- Three of the Solders will Lose One or Both Feet, but it is Expected that all the others will be Able to Go to War--Non-Suffers go to Warmer Climate.

The mail from America arriving here on Monday brought letters and postcards from some of the men who left Jamaica in the last battalion of our Contingent. Unhappily the news that came this time from our recruits was not of a pleasant nature. Exaggerated accounts of the misfortunes of the voyage began at once to be circulated, and some information which reached this office was of a distinctly alarmist nature. Wishing to obtain the authentic story of what happened to the men who last left for England, a representative of the Gleaner called yesterday on His Excellency the Governor at King's House, and asked him if he would give the public some information as to what had happened to the men who left Jamaica during last month.

Where the Transport Went
It may be stated here that no one in Jamaica knew whither the Transport was bound when she left our shores in the second week of March. Some persons said she was going direct to England, and would be convoyed from Jamaica thither; others asserted that she was bound for Bermuda; one or two hazarded the guess that her destination via Halifax, though they could not know for certain. These were right. The ship herself, we believe, sailed under sealed orders, every precaution being taken to prevent her movements from coming to the ears of the enemy. These precautions were for the good of the men on board and for the safety of the transports.

Unfortunately those who made the arrangements in England never considered that those to be conveyed from Jamaica to Halifax, at an extremely cold time of the year, were men who had lived all their lives in a tropical colony and were therefore an easy prey to cold.

The Governor was much concerned and deeply sympathetic. Only yesterday morning he had received letters from Halifax and from those he took the facts contained in the statement from him which follows. He said:-

The Governor's Statement
I have received from Halifax some statements of what happened during the voyage of the last transport. The ship was not heated and the weather was very cold. The men were supplied with warm woolen clothing which no doubt was quite suited for the English climate at this time of the year, but on approaching Halifax a blizzard came on and the cold was intense. Naturally the men, going from a tropical climate to a region of arctic coldness suffered severely. One hundred and six were frostbitten. These were at once removed to a hospital in Halifax, where they were promptly attended to by competent medical men, and where, I am very pleased to say, they are being treated with every kindness by the Canadian people. My advices state that three of these will lose one or both feet, while between thirty and forty others may lose a toe. This latter amputation will not interfere with the efficiency of the men as soldiers, and if they are still keen upon going to the front they will be sent on to England as soon as they are completely recovered.

"Those injured men who are not sent on to England will be brought back to Jamaica and properly looked after. I think myself that most of those who will have suffered the loss of a toe will still decide to go to the front. The transport, of course after landing the one hundred and six frostbitten men, immediately left for a warmer country, where our men now are. Thence, they will be convoyed to England.

"It is very unfortunate that this thing should have occurred, but I do not think it will have any effect upon recruiting. The men who have suffered have suffered in the cause of their country quite as much as those who are damaged in action. Of course, they would much have preferred their injuries in action, but as I have said, I believe that those who can go on to England after their recovery will certainly do so. They knew quite well that they were taking risks, and they were not afraid of them.

"The Gleaner states this morning that we are pledged to send 5,000 men to England this year. That is so, but the number which we may actually send from first to last may be up to 12,000. We are pledged not only to send but to maintain 5,000 men at the front. This will require reinforcements to the number of 2,700 men a year. As soon as the 5,000 are despatched we shall have to begin recruiting for the reinforcements. If the war lasts for a couple of years more, as I myself believe it will, we shall have to send away, as reinforcements nearly 5,500 men".

April 13, 1916

[front page] FELL WORK OF THE BLIZZARD--Four members of Third Contingent have legs & Feet Amputation. Five Men Have Died--Very Sad news which has Just Reached the Island--Kind Treatment in Canada.

[………..] We are informed that His Excellency the Governor has received with regret official news to the effect that the following men have had both their legs amputated below the knee.

Private 4,087 Murray
Private 3,942 S. Campbell
Private 3,417 J. Willis

His Excellency has also been advised that Private 3,692 E. Linton has had both his feet amputated.

These unfortunate man on complete recovery, will be invalided home

Five Members Dead.

We were also officially informed yesterday afternoon of the deaths of Private A. Donald, No 2821, James E. Barrett, No 2688 and C. Hanson, No 3494 who were members of the Third Jamaica War Contingent. Two of the deaths recorded in Tuesday's Gleaner were also of members of this Contingent.

April 27, 1916

VOYAGE OF THIRD CONTINGENT--Diary of the Sea Journey Which Started with Mishaps to Transport and Ended with Disastrous Blizzard at Halifax. SHIP MET WITH ROUGH WEATHER FOR SOME DAYS--The Canadian Port was Reached on the 22nd Ult. and Three Days Later, the Transport Sailed for a Warmer Clime.

Below we print a diary of the voyage of the transport with the third contingent from Jamaica to Halifax. As our readers are aware, scores of the soldiers were frost-bitten in a blizzard at the Canadian port, and several have lost limbs by amputation.


(Specially written for the Gleaner by Chas. A. Rickard, Orderly Room Sergeant.

Monday 6th.-For the third time the S.S. …….. now a transport of His Majesty's Admiralty Service, sails out of a port in ………Jamaica, with troops -on this occasion with the …………..Regiment.

With few exceptions-Jamaican who had been to Panama and other Central American Republics, composing a platoon--the majority of men in the battalion are, for the first time, travelling by sea, so there is more that passing interest an observation of the sceneries as the steamer pulls out.

Within three hours, we have nearly lost sight of land, or rather of dear old Jamaica. Behind, against the sky there is a hazy outline of towering hills. We are heading south. To port a squall is travelling northward and hides for some time a portion of the disappearing land.

The sea is choppy and it seems that the commencement of our first voyage will be met by heavy weather. Many men begin to go below deck. It is raining slightly and spraying overdeck.

Mal-de-mer is claiming many victims. The steamer which conveyed previous contingents, and bears an xxx record for rolling will not on this occasion, it appears, do better.


Soon the steamer stops, and almost everybody is on deck. It is quickly learnt that the shaft of the steering gear has been damaged, in consequence of which we shall have to put back into port.

This mishap now becomes a topic of comment by everyone. Settled down on the old adage "Every disappointment occurs for the better" thoughts begin to turn homewards. We guess, (and rightly too, by subsequent reports to hand after arrival at port) that news must have reached shore, and unless it was authoritatively announced, which does not appear probable, speculation on many occasions the cause of false rumors of serious mishaps, would be raised. We think of the state of minds in which such news would fix our dear relatives, well wishers, and other ashore.

Everybody feels so keenly disappointed that the starting voyage should come to such an abrupt (but temporary) termination.

Bow northward, and we are returning. It is night, and a grand opxx as they scour the water, is afforded. At several times, as we approach the lights are turned on to us. We are partly blinded by its brilliance and appreciate what amount of advantage the shore battery thus equipped must have over its blinded enemy.

We put into port when half the battalion are asleep.


Tuesday 7th to Saturday 11th
Morning which should have found us some 200 miles at sea, lights us up in port on a inert ship, where we are to remain until how long nobody knows.

During all this waiting no shore leave is granted, and the public is not allowed on board. We understand that letters from the ship must be censored--all these although sore disappointments do not make grievances.

Some Officers are sent ashore until the boat is ready to put to sea again.

The sick bay is getting filled, and the opportunity is taken to send them ashore and have fit men brought in to fill the vacancies. About 40 men were so exchanged.

One soldier was sent ashore for Court Martial, to answer a serious charge. The Court found him guilty and the sentence was read out to him from the upper deck by the Major in the presence of the whole battalion and ship's crew.

One shark is very friendly; he visits the boat every day and invariably brings a friend. Friday evening our Major and other Officers scored a few good shots.

Life on board is becoming monotonous; there is every minute rumour of various periods of time we may remain in port.


Saturday 11th.-Relief at last! Work on repairs is completed. Praise is due to the splendid workmanship and skill of the city firm which undertook the job, and has so successfully executed it. Sharply at 2 o'clock, as the officers who went ashore board the ship again, the S.S. ………….. pulls out for another and last time. Easterly, hugging the coast, and then southward of ……………. she puts to sea and by night land was slightly discernible.

Each man was served with two pairs of warm underwears.

Sunday 12th. A partly clear morning. There is on our starboard side, a faint outline of land. It is a morning of guessing. Some say that the land in the distance is Cuba, some hold out that it is San Domingo (Hayti) and few believe that it is Jamaica from the north. Which ever it is, it will not be announced. It is doubted if anyone else on board, besides the Captain know what is our course.


Divine service was held on foredeck at 11 o'clock. Hymns "Eternal Father Strong to Save," and "Onward Christian Soldiers" were sung. The Captain read the Morning Prayers and C.O. the lesson. There was no sermon. The service closed with the singing of the National Anthem.


Fine weather through the day and an enjoyable voyage. Towards night, a cloudy sky and signs of heavy weather ahead.

Monday 13th- Heavy seas. For the first time water dashes in as far up to the boat deck. Some men on parade got partly we. Sea-sickness sets in. More that half the battalion have succumbed. It is with great difficulty that we get men to carry our routine duties.

The weather is cooler, and the sky still cloudy. The steamer is steering westerly.

Towards evening a calmer sea. A fine moonlight under a partly cloudless sky.

Tuesday 14th.-Almost smooth waters that our boat does not roll. It does not appear that we are on the high sea. Everybody thinks himself a sailor.

Physical exercises for Officers at 6 a.m. (This kind of exercise for the troops is carried out every morning).

A three masted schooner is sighted at 7.30 a.m. on our starboard. An hour later she is lost from view.


We are moving easterly. Ahead is a peculiar looking tramp approaching us. Our Captain puts him on our port. The order is given "All below decks" as she draws nearer. Some fellows are scared, and have actually gone down to their bunks and donned their life-belts. The order was meant to hide our identity as a transport carrying troops, as much as possible, but not as some first believed, that the approaching ship was an enemy's boat. The tramp which turned out to be an oil carrier soon passes, and the scared ones are back once more on deck.

Tonight another large steamer well lighted, passes close on our port. She appears a fast traveller on passenger service.

Beautiful weather, and full moonlight. Good health on board.


Wednesday 15th- A fine morning and steering east. A four-masted sailing boat mid-starboard on the horizon is sighted at 8 a.m. She is observed for nearly half a day. It is a pleasant afternoon. Just as we seemed settled, an alarm is given "Get your life-belts on". Simultaneously, goes a long blast on the ship's siren. A wretched sound to those who believed it had meant real danger. Men rush here and there to their several bunks, all in the greatest hurry, but as orderly as the officers could direct their courses. Until deck was reached before it was generally understood that battalion and ship's crew were being put under an exercise only. It was creditably done--the ordeal passed.

Before night another sailing boat was sighted and passed out of view. Every passing boat is eyed suspiciously; the main talk is of raiders. Since the issue of rifles this morning, the belief is stronger that some enemy's craft is expected.

September 30, 1916

THE WAR CONTINGENTS WHICH HAVE BEEN SENT FROM JAMAICA--Number of Men who Have been Returned to Island as Rejected--THE REASONS ASSIGNED--Great Majority of Cases Were Due to Effects of Cold-- MATTER IN THE LEGISLATURE.

At the meeting of the Legislative Council yesterday, Mr. Allwood asked the Acting Colonial Secretary:
1. How many men have been sent to England in the several Contingents recruited in Jamaica?
2. How many have been returned to Jamaica and when?
3. Will the Colonial Secretary state the various reasons for rejection of the men returned, giving the number of men rejected under each head of rejection.
4. Will the Colonial Secretary lay on the table the report forwarded by the military authorities in England giving the reasons for the rejection of the man returned.
5. Recruits for the Army are classified under the following heads:
(a) Those fit for active service on completion of training.
(b) Those fit for garrison duty and labour units.
(c) Those fit for camp duty, orderly duty, sanitary duty and clerical work.

Are all the men returned unfit for duty under any of the above mentioned heads of classification?
6. What steps were taken either in England or Jamaica to ascertain whether the men returned were fit for duty under any of the above heads?
7. If no such steps were taken, will the Colonial Secretary state the reason why no such steps were taken (a) in England? (b) in Jamaica?
8. How many of the men returned are unfit for duty under all the heads mentioned in question 5?
9. Will the Government now take steps to ascertain how many of the men returned are fit for service under any of the heads (a), (b) or (c) referred to in question 5?
10. Will the Colonial Secretary lay on the table the printed or written condition on which the men were recruited?
11. What is the total expense incurred in connection with the returned men (a) by Jamaica? (b)By the British Government?
12. Are all the men returned entitled to pensions?
13. Will the Government arrange to return to England for service those of the returned men who on examination are found fit for such service under any of the heads (a), (b) and (c) mentioned in question 5, in order that the Colony may be saved the expense of providing pensions without having received any service therefor?


The Acting Colonial Secretary replied as follows:
1. 1st Contingent 722, 2nd Contingent 1,100, Draft by "Quillota" 53, 3rd Contingent 1,116--2,991.
2. From Bermuda on 30.5.'16, 192 from England on 8.7.'16, 80; from England on 8.9.'16 332-- 604
3. From Bermuda: Diseases: Effects of cold 118, D.A.H. 17, V.D.H. 1, Tubercle 1, Hernia 1, Albumenuria 1, Choroditis 1, Rheumatic Fever 1 ----2-----144 Found fit 31, Discharged for misconduct 17--48 Total 192 From England:-Unknown , as all papers are at Chelsea Hospital.
Of the 332 returned on 8.9. 1916, 273 belonged to the 3rd Contingent and may be classified as "effects of cold"
4. No report has been received from Secretary, War Office, only telegrams to the effect that so many invalids are being sent to Jamaica.
5. In Jamaica recruits are only taken for class (a). With the exception of 48 men, all returned men are unfit for Active service. Seventeen men were returned from Bermuda to be discharged for misconduct. Thirty-one men were found fit for service. 6. (a) Invalids from England have already been before a medical board, found unfit for Active Service and consequently discharged. They can not be re-enlisted.
(b) Invalids from Bermuda were given six weeks sick furlough then medically boarded, and all but 31 found medically unfit for further service.
7. Does not arise.
8. All but 31. Details not known but over 400 probably due to effects of cold: possibly 450.
9. 31 have been found fit for further service. Six have already gone to Egypt. One has deserted, and 24 are not in readiness to proceed.
10. The enlistment conditions are herewith attached to answer.
11. (a) Nothing at present; all paid by Imperial Government. (b) British Government is paying all expenses on the guarantee by Jamaica that she will pay £60,000 per annum for 40 years. All expenses incurred by Contingents and British West Indies Regiment are now treated out of Imperial Funds. Itemised headings are not kept.
12. No. Probably only those who have suffered amputations of a foot or feet will get life pensions. Others may get temporary pensions if recommended by Medical Board.
13. Has been arranged for under head (a) No 5 only; vide answer to question 9.


Mr. Allwood said arising out of the answers as to the classification of men under the heads (a), (b) and (c) he should like to impress on the Government the fact as to whether it was not desirable that these men should not be enlisted in three classes, so that if they are not fitted for class "a" they could be utilized for "b" or "c", and so save the country the expense of enlisting the men here, sending them to England and bringing them back. He should like to know whether the Government would not enlist the present contingent under the three classes to which he had drawn attention.

The Acting Colonial Secretary: Will the hon. member give notice to that effect:
Mr. Allwood: I am only pointing out to the Government the desirability of having it done.
The President said he agreed with the remarks of the hon. member for St Ann. He was sorry the General Officer Commanding was not present there that day. He had nothing to do with the enlistment. That was fixed by the War Office. With regard to the present conditions he was not quite clear what was the condition of enlistment.
Mr. Ewen: Do I understand the hon. Colonial Secretary to say that one man has deserted? (Voices: Yes) Has that man returned to the fold?
The Acting Colonial Secretary: I do not know if he was brought back into the fold.


Mr. Ewen next asked the Acting Colonial Secretary:-
1. Whether the Government has addressed to or received from the Imperial authorities any communication on the subject of the Jamaica Contingent being frost-bitten in March last?
2. Will he inform this House of the nature of such communications, if any?
3. Will he state the number of men incapacitated?
The Acting Colonial Secretary replied as follows:-
1. The reply is in the negative
2. See reply to questions of the hon. member for St. Ann.
3. In the absence of complete particulars from the War Office it is hardly possible to give the precise figures with regard to the March Contingent separately; the particulars however given in reply to a question from the hon. member for St Ann will give further information than this question seems to call for.

October 5, 1916

GONE TO FIGHT FOR COUNTRY--Departure of the Fourth Jamaica War Contingent Last Week.--CHEERED BY THOSANDS--Farewell Speech that Was Delivered by Brig. General Blackden.[No list]