100 Years Ago: Wounded Canadians Dock at New York, Dancing with Aviators

The Intelligencer December 20, 1917 (page 1)

“Wounded Canadians Arrive at New York. The first ship to put in at an American port, carrying as its cargo human war wreckage—the wounded and maimed from the battlefields in France—arrived here today. It was a British liner with more than 2,000 Canadians aboard.

Under normal conditions the ship would have gone direct to Halifax. Owing to the explosion which partially wrecked that city the convalescent wounded were taken off here, and will be sent to Canada as rapidly as possible.

Canadian officers and their staffs are here to care for the wounded. Arrangements have been made for special docking privileges for the men, which will bring the wounded men as close to transportation centres as possible so that they can readily be moved in ambulances to Dominion-bound trains.

Scenes new to America, despite the fact that she has been in the war since April, were presented as the British ship moved slowly up the bay today. Men with heads bandaged and swathed in yards of gauze, men with their arms strapped tightly to their bodies, or hobbling on crutches, were to be seen lining the rails. These were the most lightly wounded soldiers. More serious cases were below decks. It was to care for them that ambulances were summoned from hospitals, and automobiles were sent hurrying toward the waterfront. …

The British Red Cross flag flew from the mast of the liner, as she brought her touch of war closer to America. In her war paint, a dizzy mixture of lines and colors, the liner made her way through warships now in the harbor and proceeded toward her pier, after being quickly passed by officials of the port.”

The Intelligencer December 20, 1917 (page 2)

“Dancing with the Aviators. Flight Cadets of Mohawk Camp Gave Most Enjoyable Assembly, Last Evening.

And the night shall be full of music, / And the cares which infest the day / Shall fold their tents like the Arab / And as silently steal away.

The above lines are but faintly typical of the glorious evening of unalloyed pleasure enjoyed by many of the fairest daughters of Belleville and other nearby places at Mohawk Camp last evening, where they were the guests of the young aviators in training at an assembly which will long be remembered as the brightest and most successful social event which ever took place in this vicinity.

Upon arrival at the camp the guests were escorted to an assembly hall decorated with flags and many Christmas emblems. Here a concert was given showing the ability and talent that can be produced and so successfully carried out among such a happy group of young manhood, khaki clad. Many encores were generously responded to and while the programme was not of a lengthy nature, it was most gratefully appreciated.

Dancing then took place in the lounging and study quarters of the cadets. …  The quarters were turned into a perfect ball room most elaborately decorated with evergreens and flags, giving it the spirit of Christmas cheer.

Moshers Orchestra, of Toronto, in an alcove banked by evergreens, furnished the music, and were most liberal with encores. At intermission luncheon was served on the buffet plan most generously to all by Morrisons, caterers, of Toronto, and excellent is not the appropriate word for the ‘eats.’

The programme was then fulfilled and finished with God Save the King, and the Merry Happy Weary crowd tripped to the Mohawk Camp Depot to catch their trains both East and West homeward bound.”