Illustrations by Malcolm Jones
As we wind down our regular look at some of your lighter experiences in uniform, those that raised a smile, a chuckle, or occasionally a lusty guffaw, John Baker shares a story from his uncle, Ralph “Buz” Post of Bradwardine, Man., a bomber pilot who trained at Rivers, Man. He did not survive the war, but he wrote home, sometimes twice a week, only mentioning how much fun they were having. The letters home of many overseas personnel feature a similar approach, the writers not wanting parents and family to worry. The following is an excerpt from one of Buz Post’s letters.
“Sept. 7, 1941, Halifax. On train to Halifax. Had a great time in Winnipeg, went to Domain to a dance. All the boys are on the train. Really had fun. Went through Ontario, bush, lakes and stone, more bush, lakes and stone.
“Five of us started visiting taverns in Montreal and ended up buying a great big fat duck at a pet shop. We named her Caroline and glued wings and a service ribbon on her chest. She got out on a street and we caused a traffic jam while we were trying to catch her. Finally moved on after a cop on corner took our picture.
“We wouldn’t stay in cafes unless they gave our duck a dish and napkin. We went out to a dance with a French sailor’s niece who couldn’t speak English so stopped people at dance to interpret for us. Had a great time, ended up with no hat badge and only one button on my tunic. Next day found the other guys in a horse carriage singing Allouette. Had a few with some RCAF military police who tried to take our duck. Had a great time touring with some Americans and learning French.
“Arriving in Moncton with our duck.”
That was last mention of the duck.
Comrade Baker said he would appreciate a donation be made to the Steinbach, Man., Branch of the Legion. That is what we will do with his remuneration for this contribution.
An egg to boot
Asking that we please donate any proceeds to the poppy fund, Dennis Elliston of Tisdale, Sask., offers readers a recollection from less than four decades ago.
In 1977-78 while doing peacekeeping duties in Cyprus with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, the troops would often play jokes on one another. One of the more common pranks was to put a raw egg in each other’s combat boots every once in a while. This always brought loads of cursing and laughter.
After falling for this a couple of times, the soldiers began checking their boots before putting them on. In fact, the prank turned out to be a blessing in disguise. On one occasion a big scorpion, something Nicosia had in abundance, fell out of a boot. Even now, whenever Comrade Elliston sees a pair of boots in the doorway and eggs on the breakfast table, he still smiles at the old memories.
Tom White of New Victoria, N.S., writes about his time as a peacekeeper serving in the Congo.
One Saturday night, he was in the junior officers’ mess in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo). At about midnight, the military police came in and everyone had to show their dog tags. They did and asked White and Stan Goodbrand to step outside.
They were told that a Pakistani soldier was shot and needed blood. As they were the only ones with O negative blood, they would have to give. White told them that wouldn’t be a good idea at the time since they were three sheets to wind. But MPs insisted.
They were taken to the hospital and right into the operating room where the patient was having surgery. Orderlies put up a sheet between them and the operating table and rolled up another table, asking Goodbrand to lie on it. Then they put a needle in his arm, attached a tube to it, ran a line under the sheet and began taking blood. When he had given enough, they put White on the table and did the same.
The next day they were told that the soldier was all right. But White bet he had one big hangover because he and Goodbrand sure did.
White also asked that his reward for this contribution go to the poppy fund.