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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.

BITS AND PIECES: Some recollections by Centennial Class of ’76 Classmates

Brian Kroeker: As an “anglo”, the first French phrase I ever spoke in my life makes for a good story.  We were on our recruit bus tour in September 1972 to the East Coast that concluded just before we ran the Recruit Obstacle race.  At this point we were outbound and somewhere deep in Quebec French territory.  The bus pulled off the highway to provide us recruits with a bathroom and refreshment break.  I was in line and becoming increasingly nervous as I noted how the person serving us was only taking orders in French.  What to do?  One of my francophone buds was in front of me so I hastily asked how do you say hot chocolate in French.  He nailed it – Chocolat chaud!  And I still remember it to this day!

I also remember the first French class I attended in my life.  It was in Massey Library and I was sweating bullets. I wanted to let the French professor know that I had absolutely no background in French – nada.  So before he could call the class to order I shot my hand up and blurted out “Sir, I just want you to know that I speak no French!”.   To which he nonchalantly replied “That’s OK, your English isn’t that good either!”

John “Rocky” McManus: One of our seniors at RMC, Bill “Muff” Moffat used to swim across the Cataraqui River and back every morning after running out the front door of Fort Champlain…and I dare say he did this even in winter! OK, maybe not across the river in winter, but there are photos of him getting into the river through a hole in the ice. He was a bit of a legend and was ever so proud of his truck “Giddyup Go.” Unfortunately Muff died in an accident; his death hit us all hard and reminded us of our mortality and the possible downside of our profession of arms, especially after losing our classmate Tony Bowie during the Recruit obstacle course. If buds were dropping all around us during peacetime, what would happen to us in war time?

One of our recurring tasks on BOTC in Chilliwack was to cross the Vedder river on a Swiss seat using a slung rope. But, one person always had to wade/swim the rope over to the other side to get the platoon over. At every ‘O’ group when the orders were given out, it started with “McManus, you will swim the rope across the river”.  The CFOCS staff knew the dangers of a fast moving icy cold mountain stream that claimed 2 lives the year before, so I always received a comprehensive brief that ended with “Keep your head above the water”. I never did get to cross the Vedder in my Swiss seat and always had to continue the march with wet boots.

I also clearly remember the 5-mile run we did in full battle dress in the hot sun in BOTC. The DS were quite concerned because, being an ‘all MILCOL’ platoon,  the pace was much faster than normal for CFOCS. At about halfway, one of the buds was struggling and having trouble breathing. I took his rifle and somebody else took some of his gear. In hindsight, he was having heatstroke; when we went over the finish line, he passed out – I think that they gave him first aid, but he came back to normal by the next day.

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

Souvenirs: Partie 7 / Memories: Part 7

Souvenirs: Partie 8 / Memories: Part 8