“There must have been a sense of humour in the higher powers at RMC”
3629 Bob Smith (RRMC/RMC 1956) and 3959 Phil Smith (RMC 1958) were recently back on the Parade Square at RMC for the first time in 62 years. e-Veritas caught up with them to get more of their story in their own words.
It should initially be noted that there was a history of military service in the twins’ family. Their father, Will, served in WWI as an engine fitter in the RFC and then again in WWII. Their somewhat older brother, Bill, graduated from Ford Engineering College in the midst of WWII and then served as a Captain in the IEME branch of the Indian Army.
Although the Smith twins were Cadets at the RMC at the same time, they were not in the same class. How did that happen? Bob entered Royal Roads in September 1952 from their home in Preston, Ontario (now Cambridge). Phil did not apply for the Canadian Service Colleges, as RR and RMC were then called, because he just wanted to look at other options and he ended up working in a oil company lab for the year.
Bob’s positive experiences at RR prompted Phil to apply to the Service Colleges for entry in 1953; he applied for RMC because he did not want to be a recruit at Roads where his twin was now a senior. To his pleasure and relief, Phil was accepted for RMC in September 1953.
On arrival at RMC Phil tried out for the RMC Senior Soccer Team … and made it! He was the only First Year Cadet to make the Senior team. First Year Cadets were called “Recruits” and so titled for the entire first year, not like today where “Recruits” become “First Year” as soon as the Obstacle Course is completed.
But being the only Recruit on the Senior Team had its problems. In later years Phil recognized that “my immaturity told me that, in spite of the challenges faced by Recruits at RMC, I had the place beat. I did not have to do many of the chores and challenges faced by Recruits because of time I spent as a member of the Senior Soccer Team.”
In spite of warnings from his soccer teammates, almost all of whom were Gods from Fourth Year, including his own Squadron CSL, his own Squadron CFL, and several other FOUR BAR rankers, who took time to urge him to work harder on the academic side, he failed calculus at the end of First Year!
While Phil was “wallowing in despair” at having failed First Year, Bob completed his Second Year at RR … and got ready for Third Year at the RMC.
So, in September of 1954,Phil began his First year AGAIN and Bob was now at RMC beginning his Third Year but that is not the full story. There must have been a sense of humour in the Higher Powers at RMC because Bob and his identical twin brother were placed in the same Squadron!
Even today, Phil’s classmates in RMC’58 recount the horror stories of responding to a knock on their dorm door with “Come in” and greeting the entrant with “Hi Phil, what’s up?” to be given the response by a scowling Third Year cadet with even a voice just like Phil’s …”You are supposed to stand when a Senior enters your room. Stand Up!”
This conflict of identities continued with even greater emphasis into Fourth Year, when Bob was appointed 2i/c of 8 Squadron while Phil finally started Second year.
At last, in 1956, Bob graduated. Phil was the on parade in the Squadron ranks as Bob and his class marched off, and Phil’s classmates began to give sighs of relief. Bob was commissioned in the PPCLI and qualified as a paratroop officer. Two years later, Phil, a CFL in the same squadron graduated and was commissioned in the RCR; he also began his service in the airborne battalion of his regiment.
Both Smith twins left the military after five or so years and both entered graduate schools at different universities. Bob spent most of his professional life as a member of the Federal Government, split between The Treasury Board and then Fisheries and Oceans Dept. Phil spent several decades with the CBC and then with the Commonwealth Government Office. Both now live on Vancouver Island and both are unequivocal in extolling the positive qualities, and the life-long friendships, that their terms in the Canadian Service Colleges awarded them.
In closing, Phil would like to record that Bob did make one more rather valued contribution to his twin’s future. He arranged a blind date for Phil and a lovely young lady from Kingston, Mary Elizabeth, for the 1956 West Point – RMC hockey game and formal ball. That date has lasted for the past sixty-plus years … thanks, Bob.
3629 R.P. Smith Class of ’56
3959 P.H. Smith Class of ’58