On the homefront, many a Newfoundland boy and man had wanted to join the Newfoundland Regiment or the Royal Naval Reserve in active duty, but were turned down for a variety of reasons. Age being one reason; either too young, or too old. The Government’s appeal for lumbermen volunteers highlighted the relaxed entry requirements. Now was an opportunity to make their war contribution to King and country.
It was thought that the number of recruits enlisting would be brisk, particularly in light of the instruction from the A.N.D. Company that it was curtailing cutting timber next winter due to falling overseas markets and because of the shortage of shipping vessels. That was not the case. Many came forward from St. John’s (167 men) and from the timber industry in central Newfoundland (129 men), but not in as great a number as had been hoped. Even though the rate of pay was to be the same as those in the Newfoundland Regiment, the nature of the service was not as appealing as active duty as a soldier or sailor.
A total of 498 were accepted at the headquarters in the CLB Armoury in St. John’s and two in Great Britain. An additional 278 recruits were not accepted, unable to meet the revised physical requirements. Intensive training for the Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers was carried out over three weeks in late-April and early-May, with the Sergeants and Section Commanders selected from those who had woods operations experience. A mixture of age, youth, and wounded soldiers unable to stay in active service made up the new Forestry Corps – they would work side-by-side as lumbermen in Scotland. The first draft of foresters, 99 strong, left St. John’s for Halifax aboard the S.S. Florizel on May 19, 1917 under the charge of Captain William Baird. A second draft of 170, under Major Michael Sullivan, left in July and smaller drafts crossed during the winter and spring of 1918.