However, Sam Hughes had not authorized the mobilization of complete battalions. Instead, Militia Regiments across Canada were allowed to organize various drafts as required by the authorities. Therefore, the 79th Cameron Highlanders formed the following units from August - October, 1914:
Within six weeks, the 43rd was up to full strength. Unsuitable men were weeded out and training began to establish a full complement of Non-Commissioned Officers. The winter of 1914-1915 was severe, but the new recruits drilled daily at the new Drill Hall on Erin Street.
#420434 Sgt. David McMillan
The severity of the weather did not slow us down. If it was no colder than zero, we worked outside. Because of the cold we had to go to it vigorously, and it was quite a sight to see a Company blowing icy breaths, and doing physical jerks as if it were a matter of life and death. Then there were the long route marches about every other day. We wore balaclava helmets, but it was quite common to see frozen noses and cheeks. The troops got toughened up by this rigorous training and as far as I was concerned, I never felt in better health.
As the numbers of recruits increased, the problem arose as to where the men should barrack. This problem was alleviated somewhat by temporarily placing men in the basement of St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church. Fortunately, the Camerons moved into the newly constructed Minto Barracks during the first week of March 1915.
As was the custom of the day, the 43rd was presented with numerous gifts before leaving Canada. The former mayor, Alexander Macdonald, gave a complete set of 16 bagpipes imported from Glasgow; the St. Andrew's Society gave a complete set of band instruments. Also, several field kitchens were received by the battalion.
Just prior to leaving for the front, the shocking news of the Second Battle of Ypres reached Winnipeg. It was in this terrible battle that the first heavy casualty lists of members of the regiment appeared.
#420032 Sgt. William J. Cunningham
In those days we didn't know what the hell gas was till we went over[seas].
Among those killed was Captain John Geddes, 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish). A memorial service was immediately planned to honour the men of the regiment who fell in the Ypres Salient. The service took place at St. Stephen's Church, 5 May, conducted by Rev. Gordon. That same evening, orders were received for the 43rd Battalion to prepare for overseas. Two days later, the citizens of Winnipeg bid the unit farewell in the Industrial Bureau, organized by the St. Andrew's Society. Breif patriotic speeches were given by Sir Douglas Cameron, Lt.-Governor, and Mayor Waugh. On 29 May, the men marched to the CPR Station and crowds lined the streets to see them off. At the head of the column stood the placard: 43rd Battalion, Minto St. Barrack - Berlin.
#420638 L/Cpl. James Low
We marched all the way from Minto Street right down to the CRP depot where the freight sheds are. There was so much crowd, excitement and everything that, my God!, you couldn't move.
After a fairly fast voyage, the men disembarked at Davenport, and travelled by rail to a destination unknown.
Hon. Capt. Rev. Charles W. Gordon
During the long, sunny spring day, our little train whisked us briskly through the beauty of the English southern counties. The next afternoon we arrived in a misty rain, hungry, our rations exhausted, weary from ship and train travel. At the little station we were kept waiting in the pouring rain. As the night grew wetter and darker, the men sat on their kit bags or found such shelter as they could, growing more indignant and more disgusted with the British high command, the war in general, and the Kaiser, who, in the last analysis, they considered responsible for their misery
At long last, orders were received to proceed to camp and the battalion set off in the dark. When they arrived late that night, they discovered nothing ready for them. They received blankets and tents from British Ordnance and set up camp that night in the darkness. This was done so efficiently that they were called upon to prepare camp for units that arrived afterwards.
Lt. J. Gordon Young
There was a great competition amongst the various militia units to go overseas as a unit, to retain their militia identity. It was quite a threat when we sent several hundred men to the 16th. It looked like it was the end of the battalion, much to our disgust.
Fortunately, the 43rd received four drafts of men from the 79th Cameron Highlanders in Winnipeg. After many weeks at Shorncliffe Camp and, later, Bramshott Camp, the 43rd proceeded overseas to France 19 February 1916.