SHILO – R.C.A.
17 May 56: It was like the annual family reunion, but without picnic basket or shady park. The place – Camp Shilo, Manitoba. For those from R.M.C. who had been together all year, there were plenty of old friends to see again. For those from Royal Roads who, by this time were graduates of the institution, there were even more hands to shake. Anyway, we were all back again for our second twelve-week visit at Shilo.
Training got under way on 22 May 56 and what a mystery it was. Period after period of ballistics, director, gun drill and fire discipline. In a few days the novelty had worn off and we were ready to settle down and learn some gunnery. Our weapon was the beloved 25 pdr with all its parts and pieces. With this piece of equipment we were expected to hit something?!
But little by little the fog cleared and first thing first we knew it was our fourth week and we were off to Signals Battery to catch up on the latest information from that source. Then it was back to Gunnery Bty again. But things were different now. Somehow we had learned something about gun positions and how to use them, and we were starting to do dry deployments. They increased in difficulty and we soon became proficient enough to do a live shoot. These became more and more frequent and before we knew it the summer was almost over and it was time for Arty. Scheme.
After a laborious Saturday morning of drawing equipment and loading vehicles, we turned in knowing that this would be our last chance for a good sleep until next weekend.
On Sunday we left camp and started finding out how gunners really live. Everyone enjoyed himself very much and, except for the additional exercise of digging gun pits, it was a welcome change from the routine barracks life.
The summer was a complete success and I am sure everyone in 2nd phase enjoyed it very much and will be anxiously awaiting word of their posting for 3rd practical phase training next summer.
No. 4252 H.R. Wheatley
ROYAL CANADIAN ENGINEERS SUMMER TRAINING
Each year, the cadets taking First and Second Phase training make the long trek to the R.C.S.M.E. at Camp Chilliwack in the beautiful lower Fraser Valley. In direct contrast with the previous summers, the last one was almost perfect as far as weather was concerned.
The First Phase cadets, who lived in a tented camp by themselves, were subjected to the usual ten weeks’ basic training course followed by two weeks of Corps training. The vigorous and intensive basic training course followed by two weeks of Corps training. The vigorous and intensive basic training covered such fields as first aid, map reading, communications, fieldcraft, section tactics, and other elementary infantry courses. Weapons training on the rifle, Bren, Sten, Grenade, and rocket launcher occupied an important part and, of course, many many long hours were spent on the parade square with Mr. Sininger and his staff. The final two weeks were spent (without P.T.) on Field Defences and Mine Warfare, subjects of more concern to Sappers. First Phase at Chilliwack compares with any for a high standard of discipline and training, but in spite of this “a good time was had by all”. Escape was to be found in the mess and at the lake.
Second Phase training is a great deal more interesting and practical for the Sappers than the First Phase. The courses covered were Mine Warfare, Water Supply, Roads and Airfields, Recce, Field Defences, Organization of Work, and the popular Demolitions course. The muscles as well as the brains were exercised during the courses relative to improvised and equipment bridging. Another interesting course was Rafting and Watermanship which involved a week at the lake under the watchful eye of Corporal Covey, S.B.O. Some time was spent on the square, but Second Phase was blessed with having no P.T. Examinations were held at the end of each course and a fairly high standard was demanded and met.
Socially, the highlights of the summer were the Saturday night dances at the Mess, the ex-cadet cocktail party in Vancouver, the tea dance, and, of course, the midsummer Ball after the March-off Parade. The social life was quite active with many cadets having interests in Chilliwack and at nearby Cultus Lake. For those whose interests lay along the lines of “demolishing forty beers” the mess dinners and troop parties were huge successes.
Many Sappers say they do not want to return to Chilliwack, but most are not too unhappy to be posted back . . .
“Oh give me a tent with a ridgepole that’s bent
And the sides are all tattered and torn . . . .”
No. 4119 C.W.W. Darling