• Home
  • /
  • Remember When
  • /
  • 10966 MICHEL MAISONNEUVE: MEMORIES OF RMC – SOUVENIRS DU CMR PART 7 / PARTIE 7

10966 MICHEL MAISONNEUVE: MEMORIES OF RMC – SOUVENIRS DU CMR PART 7 / PARTIE 7

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.

GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON JR COMES TO VISIT

The movie “Patton” came out in 1970 and resulted in an Academy Award for George C. Scott. But little is known about the great General himself coming to visit RMC a few times leading up to West Point weekend in our 4th Year. Being a tanker myself, I loved the idea of him spending some time haranguing the Cadets and providing leadership to our group.

Cole Tokei was the main player in this thespian tour de force. Somehow, he found himself a pair of riding boots, a crop, riding pants, all kinds of awards and medals that he pinned on his battle blouse stuffed to make him look pumped.

The first visit of the good General took place in our Third Year during the visit of USAFA to RMC. During a lunch break, MPs in helmets and sunglasses (Loziuk, Amyotte, Camplin, and others) walked into Yeo Hall with Patton following. He proceeded to make a speech exhorting the RMC teams to “vanquish the enemy” and “believe in the superiority of the Canadian soldier”. The USAFA Cadets responded by leading their Cadets through their College cheer.

Somehow, again one snowy morning in January, through the help of one of our Buds who knew a Captain on the hill, we managed to commandeer an M577 armoured tracked command post and a jeep from CFB Kingston. So here we were Thursday morning during the DCdts parade: as the Wing was formed up, around the corner from the Old Hospital came a jeep followed by the M577, and they stopped in front of Currie building. The DCdts was surprised, but LCol John Gardam being an Armour Officer, was not afraid; he should have been! Out of the jeep came two MPs who kidnapped him and the jeep sped off behind Fort LaSalle. The ramp of the M577 then came down, and two soldiers carrying flags stepped out and crossed the flags. On top of the CP stepped General Patton: silver helmet gleaming, pearl-handled pistols on his hips and a bull horn to address the troops.

Then from behind Fort LaSalle came the sound of two shots. Patton announced that the DCdts had been sacrificed and that HE would now lead “you magnificent bastards”! His speech was laced with “We are going to go through them like crap through a goose!” and “When you put your hand in a pool of goo that used to be your friend’s face, you’ll KNOW what to do!” The Wing was cheering as Patton remounted his trusty steel steed and left the square.

Patton’s final appearance was in our 4th Year, when West Point was visiting. Another lunch was interrupted by two motorcycles ridden by MPs (same guys) leading the General right into the middle of Yeo Hall! Another rousing speech followed which left our visitors shaken at the duplicity of this famous graduate of the USMA who was supporting RMC.

I am told that there was one other appearance by Patton on the same weekend that is not as well known. As the Superintendent of West Point (LGen Berry) was standing outside on the snowy square, Patton came to say hello. Apparently when Tokei saluted Berry, the Superintendent replied “perhaps it should be me who salutes, sir!” All in good fun!

To be continued…


For previous articles in this series please see below. / Pour les articles précédents de cette série, voir ci-dessous.

Souvenirs: Partie 1 / Memories: Part 1

Souvenirs: Partie 2 / Memories: Part 2

Souvenirs: Partie 3 / Memories: Part 3

Souvenirs: Partie 4 / Memories: Part 4

Souvenirs: Partie 5 / Memories: Part 5

Souvenirs: Partie 6 / Memories: Part 6

11 Comments

  • 11002 Bill Sergeant

    June 23, 2020 at 10:52 am

    Well done Michel. This weeks column brought back lost of memories of some of the good times that we had during our time at RMC. Cheers, Bill

  • 9961 Greg Hug

    June 23, 2020 at 11:20 am

    Hi Michel, I enjoyed this article as well as others. I particularly enjoyed seeing names of cadets that stood out within the Cadet Wing

  • Peter Avis

    June 23, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Great rendition of a favorite story, Michel! As rooks, we were agog with possibility for skylarks of the future after this monumental prank. Cole Tokei’s name went down in infamy that winter morning — and we still remember his feat today! Cheers, Pete

  • 11766 James Philip Doherty

    June 23, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Hello Michel, Thanks so much for recounting the greatest skylark that I witnessed during my time at RMC. As a second year cadet standing in the ranks during that normally mundane Thursday morning DCdts parade, under a sombre sky, the experience was surreal with the usual silence being broken by vehicles racing in from behind the Old Hospital. I will never forget the almost deafening noise of that armoured vehicle magnified by the sound deflecting off Mackenzie Building. I remember feeling it in my ribcage. Then, seeing Cole Tokei emerge from the top hatch on the M577 in all his Patton regalia and his mind-blowing impression of the great general. True to form, the cadet wing responded with a din of banging rifle butts, and uproarious cheering and laughter. It was brilliantly conceived, beautifully staged, and flawlessly executed – truly the most entertaining moment of my time at RMC. “…shrapnel, cordite, NCT, R-M-C!!!

  • Wade Cuthbertson

    June 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Great stories about Patton’s visits during West Point weekends, Michel. I had not heard about these antics. Inspiring for all classes to come. Excellent Skylark!

  • Mike Houghton

    June 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Excellent story, Michel, and thank you for sharing. I worked with John Gardam in my later service years and knew him well. He had a great sense of humour so suspect he took the lark in stride. Not sure the cadets would get away with this today – sad in my view…..

  • Eric McKay

    June 23, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    What an excellent recounting of – as Jim Doherty so aptly described it – one of the greatest skylarks ever! I was at CMR at the time (headed there for 3rd & 4th yr Mech Eng, fall 1977) but witnessed, partook in, and was the recipient of (esp at CMR, as a minority Anglo in a squadron of almost entirely Francos, so ripe for the picking!) my fair share of pranks at both CMR & RMC. Thanks Michel for bringing those great memories back to life through the recounting of a small sampling of these representative and well-“executed” comical and yet most memorable stunts!!
    TDV/VDV 12106 E. McKay

  • Ivan Beaudry

    June 25, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Mr. Maisonneuve,

    Although I was never enrolled at RMC, your story definitely resonated with my past service. I would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing you in your glory as you describe these moments perfectly.

    I find that we aren’t reminded enough about our “own” stories that were made throughout our military service as “newbies”. Thank you for sharing, it made me think of just that!

    Those moments now… where I can only envision the cringes of the CSM who has to deal with quite the characters each morning lined up outside his office.

    I smile, as I know these experiences helped us all develop in to “excellent” soldiers; and also gave us quite the “Uh-oh” moments when it was time to take responsibility for our actions.

    I look forward to your “to be continued” and to read through the other entries.

    BZ well done!

  • 11088 Howard Hisdal

    July 3, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Thank-you Michel for sharing these wonderful memories! I provided one of the helmets to the motorcycle riders. I had an old white UN Military Police helmet liner with old staff sergeant’s rank painted on it that saw some service in the Sinai in 1962 and some more service at RMC in the 1970s. This skylark series was truly magnificent! It was much appreciated by the Americans