CENTENNIAL CLASS OF 1976/CLASSE DU CENTENAIRE 1976
À l’approche de l’entrée de notre promotion dans la Vieille Brigade, plusieurs souvenirs remontent à la surface. Je vais tenter d’en écrire quelques uns; certains en français, certains en anglais.
As the date of entry of our Class into the Old Brigade approaches, many memories resurface; I will try to write some of them – in French or in English.
A FIXTURE OF OUR BASIC OFFICER TRAINING COURSE: SGT CY CLAYTON
As young men, I’m sure most of us identified several individuals that we tried to model ourselves after. When I arrived at RMC in1972, one of mine was my senior Cadet Squadron Leader, Bill Sutherland. Then in the summer of 1973, many of us went to Chilliwack, BC to do our Basic Officer Training Course. There, one of our platoon trainers was Sergeant Cy Clayton.
Sgt Clayton was one of a very few black Canadians in the Armed Forces. He had served with the Canadian Guards, then the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada until its relinquishment to the Reserve Order of Battle in 1970. At that time, many members joined the Royal Canadian Regiment.
Sgt Clayton provided a model for many because of his leadership and pride in the military; he thought of service as one of the highest calling a Canadian could fulfill. And, he was so proud of the Infantry. We would often perform assault boat training with RHIBs. He would accompany our Section, and as we approached the beach, all the Officer-Cadets tried as they could, to jump out of the boat and not get their boots wet (young wieners we were…). Sgt Clayton would purposely and very deliberately jump out of the boat right into a foot of water; he then would inevitably growl: “Ahhrgh, Gentlemen! The QUEEN OF BATTLE!” and make all of us “kids” feel sheepish.
As we learned to wear our uniforms, he would always treat us like gentlemen. He would explain the importance of tucking your shirt in just right so that you looked like the young gentlemen you were or hoped to be. He was proud of his role in preparing these young men (at that time there were no women in our platoon, though there was a platoon or two of women in the other company) to become officers in HIS Armed Forces. Some of these young men might one day be in command of him and other soldiers like him, so he was trying to instill a sense of pride in us.
He treated everybody with respect and compassion, but with an edge to his professionalism. Two of his favourite sayings were: “Stand still, stand still!” and “Move yourself, move yourself!” to be used whenever the situation demanded. Of course, the entire platoon loved to good-naturedly imitate him when he wasn’t around. It was even funnier when Sgt Clayton would put the two sayings together; one time, we were taking a weapon-handling class and learning how to load an FNC1 magazine while sitting in a circle on the floor. A classmate of ours, Don Oxley (RIP), dropped all his dummy 7.62 ammunition on the floor and was trying to pick them up; he was holding up Sgt Clayton’s class. So the Sgt is saying “Mr Oxley, move yourself, move yourself…” then, wanting to go on, “Stand still, stand still!” And old Don doesn’t really know what he should do, stop or continue picking up the rounds. We laughed at that little vignette many times after that, with one of us imitating Sgt Clayton.
Later, must have been in 1994 or 1995 – I went to see him in his office, to say hello and to tell him how much I appreciated his example of a professional soldier. It was a very nice few minutes, and I felt he was proud of me – of us; a bit like a parent whose sons turned out OK.
Tim Dunne recently wrote a very nice article on CWO (retd) Clayton in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. He was a fine role model indeed for many of us.
To be continued…
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