Arriving in a wintry Coventry still dressed in lightweight tropical dress was a cold start for the 29th Division, although it was a warm welcome from the population.
RUGBY ARRIVALS - arrangements were altered by the authorities last week, and it was decided to send instead the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and the Border Regiment, The troops, who have been stationed in India, arrived in England on Sunday, and after travelling all night the first detachment—half the Battalion of the Inniskilling Fusiliers—reached Rugby about nine o’clock on Monday morning, their comrades arriving shortly afterwards, and the Border Regiment at about 11.30.
Mr Arthur Morson (clerk to the Urban District Council) received a telegram notifying him that the first contingent had left the docks at Avonmouth between five and six o’clock on Monday morning, and he immediately proceeded to make the necessary arrangement for their reception. The first train left the port at 4.30 a.m, and carried 12 officers, 404 rank and file, and 10 tons of baggage and ammunition. The train arrived here at eight o’clock.
The second train, which left at 5.0 and arrived at Rugby at nine o’clock, brought 11 officers, 435 rank and file, and six tons of baggage. The third train conveyed 11 officers, 449 rank and file, and 15 tons of baggage, and left port at 6.45 a.m. The fourth train started its journey at 7.30, and reached Rugby at 10.30. It contained 11 officers, 459 rank and file, eight tons of baggage and ammunition.
The news of their arrival soon spread, and small crowds collected in the vicinity of the L & N-W Railway Station to witness the incoming of the later detachments. The men, who were wearing their Indian sun helmets and great khaki coats (a necessary precaution owing to the cold biting wind, in striking contrast to the excessive heat of the plains of India), were a fine stalwart lot of fellows. On arriving at Rugby the men were marched off to their billets, which were mainly situated in the Abbey Street and Oxford Street quarter of the town, and were pointed out to them by the police and boy scouts. This kind of accommodation is quite new to the men, who have never been billeted on the population before, but Tommy Atkins is an adaptable fellow, and doubtless will soon settle down to the new arrangement.
During the time that the men remain, at Rugby it is expected that they will go into training for the serious work before them. The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers have a fine regimental band, and Rugbeians will probably be provided with some musical treats during the troops’ sojourn here.
Several of the rank and file who have talked with our representative have already formed a good opinion of Rugby, which they consider to be a delightful town, although, as one remarked, “ It’s a bit cold after the hotter parts of India where we have come from ; but I suppose we shall soon get used to it.” The voyage from India was naturally slow owing to the conditions of transport, the speed of a convoy depending on its slowest vessel. Christmas was spent on the water, and passed off very much like an ordinary day, with very little, if any, variation in the diet or routine.
As there is no Brigadier at present in command of the troops in Rugby, the supreme command is by courtesy vested in the senior officer, who in this case is Lieut-Col R C O Hume, officer commanding the 1st Border Regiment. The officers commanding the regiments express themselves as more than satisfied with the reception that the troops have experienced in the town, and from the reports it appears that the whole of the billets are satisfactory and comfortable. The men are delighted with their billets, and quite a number state that the inhabitants upon whom they are billeted cannot do too much for them.
We are informed that at least one of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers has “met his fate” in Rugby, and intends to lead a local lady to the altar at an early date.
Note: 29th DIVISION - 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers arrived in Coventry. They had been stationed in Burma with 5 companies at Rangoon, 2 at Thayetmyo and 1 at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. They arrived in Coventry to bitterly cold weather still dressed in their lightweight tropical uniform including shorts. The 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers reached Stockingford from Avonmouth. They had been stationed in Calcutta, India. The 1st Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers arrived in Rugby from Avonmouth. They had been stationed at Trimulgherry, India. The 1st Battalion, Border Regiment arrived in Rugby from Avonmouth. They had been stationed at Maymyo in Upper Burma having moved from Gibralter in 1908.
Rugby Advertiser 16th January 1915