The Patriotic Association of Newfoundland now faced the challenge of achieving its goal. On August 22, 1914, an Enlistment Proclamation ran in the papers. Men between nineteen and thirty-five were urged to enlist to "serve abroad for the duration of the war, but not exceeding one year." The rate of pay for a private was $1.00 per day plus free rations.
The first night the recruitment centre was open in St. John's, 74 men enlisted. Within a week, this number had reached 275. By September 2, the number of volunteers had reached 743 (although not all of these would meet all the enlistment requirements).
The Patriotic Association now began the task of equipping and training these men. By September 2, a training camp had been set up in Pleasantville in St. John's. Government, businesses, and private citizens donated tents. Other shelters for the men were made from sails taken from vessels in the harbour.
After a month of training, the First Five Hundred (actually 537 soldiers), also known as the Blue Puttees, were ready to head overseas. On October 3, 1914, they marched from their training camp to board the SS Florizel, a steamer and sealing vessel that had been converted into a troopship. They were cheered on by a large gathering of citizens. The next day, the troops began their journey overseas.