Humour Hunt

A good laugh stands the test of time. One of Legion Magazine’s most popular features has been the column Humour Hunt which is compiled from reminiscences and bits of humour sent in by our readers. The column has run continuously since February 1982. We hope you will enjoy some samples from past columns.

The ducks of war
Blog, Humour Hunt

The ducks of war

Retired naval captain Stephen Oldale of Victoria, B.C., remembers the day back in 1972 when the Royal Canadian Navy abolished the daily rum issue. He says he presided over the very last call of “Up spirits. Hands to muster for grog” while serving as navigating officer on HMCS Chaudière. He tells the story: “Chaudière at the time was west of Hawaii in the second-to-last time zone of the Western Hemisphere before the international date line (and tomorrow). Our ceremony under the circumstances was somewhat elaborate as it marked the end of a long tradition in Commonwealth navies.” The issue was half a gill, or two and a half ounces. “The rules were that if one took the issue ‘neat’ it had to be consumed in front of the issuing officer, but if water, cola and the like were brought…the rum...
Target practice
Blog, Humour Hunt

Target practice

Back in the 1960s, the Connaught Ranges just outside Ottawa used to hire high school students to pull targets during various rifle competitions, including a number of military meets. I worked there one summer.  Every morning, we would trudge down range and descend into one of two sets of trenches with targets, one at 600 yards and a second at 1,000. We would hoist the targets on a pulley system and watch for a bullet hole to appear. When it did, the drill was to pull the target down, stick a red cardboard square on a peg into the hole (showing the shooter where he hit) and patch any previous hole with a bit of paper and paste. It was hot work, down in a concrete trench in the summer sun, but not especially strenuous. But it could get exciting at times. Occasionally a round would hit t...
Bugs in barracks
Humour Hunt

Bugs in barracks

Many military barracks during the Second World War were primitive. Celia Brown, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division, found herself living in barracks at a Winnipeg repair depot, where she was introduced to the ubiquitous cockroach. “I got a jar and I caught eight or 10 cockroaches.” “At night, when you went in the washrooms and turned the lights on, it seemed to us there was millions,” she said. “Probably not that many, but a lot of cockroaches went running. One day, I left my hat on top of my pillow, because you had to make your bed up first, and when I came back and picked up my hat, out popped a cockroach.” That was the last straw for Brown. “I got a jar and I caught eight or 10 cockroaches, took them into work the next day. Our CO was quite friendly;...
Playing doctor aboard ship
Humour Hunt

Playing doctor aboard ship

HMCS Cayuga was a Tribal-class destroyer that did three tours in Korean waters during the Korean War. On one tour, its surgeon was an affable chap named Joseph Cyr, an American, oddly enough, who quickly became a favourite of the entire crew. When the captain developed an inflamed molar, Cyr told him he didn’t know a lot of dentistry, but he’d give it a shot. He retired to his cabin for a little reading, emerged and pulled the skipper’s tooth with no fuss and no complications afterward. He took care of all the normal medical problems—cuts, sprains, breaks and minor infections—that occur among any crew at sea. One time, though, Cayuga was sent to provide gunfire support to a Korean commando raid. When the troops came off, a number of them were wounded, some seriously. “Our do...
When the NAVY won the Grey Cup
Humour Hunt

When the NAVY won the Grey Cup

– Illustration by Malcolm Jones –   The Royal Canadian Navy racked up an admirable record in the Second World War, but one of its triumphs is little known. While the navy was battling U-boats in the Atlantic Ocean and aiding in the D-Day landings, it also managed to win the Grey Cup. Yes, that Grey Cup. In 1944, for reasons that are vague, navy brass decided to organize a football team from two Montreal establishments, the naval reserve division HMCS Donnacona and the communications training school HMCS St. Hyacinthe. John Crncich, who played for the team—known as the St. Hyacinthe-Donnacona Navy or the Navy Combines—said it was a Cinderella outfit. “They formed a team of football, got into a league that might and, eventually, did vie for the Grey Cup and as it turned out, to ...
Fighting Words
Humour Hunt

Fighting Words

The First World War has been over for more than a century, but it still echoes today, even in the language. The thousands of Canadian soldiers who went overseas in 1914-18 brought home words and phrases we still use. Soldiers in the trenches were plagued by lice, which were known as “chats.” The men would gather in quiet times to pick the lice out of their garments and pass the time of day with their buddies. They called it “chatting” and we still chat today, although without the pesky insects. The concept of three on a match being bad luck also came from the trenches. Soldiers believed that the lit match applied to one cigarette might draw the eye of a sniper. The second light would give him a chance to zero in and the third light, Bang! Very bad luck. The word strafe—to machine-gun...

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