Flashback: 1956 Summer Training – ARMY – Part 2

CAMP BORDEN – INFANTRY

Last summer in retrospect reveals four important phases of training. These were military training (such as field craft, range work, and, of course, drill), sports, leave, and duties.

The military aspect of the summer began with a pre-course introduction to familiarize us with the normal twelve-week course. Although viewed with some misapprehension, since it deprived us of one week’s leave, it was condoned as beneficial.

Following this familiarization course, work became more serious. Range and fieldwork formed the counterpart of route marches. Tests, both written and practical, indicated our progress. Towards the end of the course we had become fairly proficient in all phases of training, although Rompre was only rifle marksman. Generally speaking, the military training was successful; all infanteers obtaining “B” grading.

Athletics demanded nearly as much time as training and, many cases, overrode it. The school’s boxing, track, and swim meets projected Preston, Rompre and Gagnon to represent the School at the Camp Borden meets in boxing, track, and swimming meets, respectively. These sports interfered greatly with the military training which had to forego its claim on the participants to enable them to train for their sports. This exchange of time came willingly to the competitors but regretfully to the platoon commander.

The duties assigned to us, were, if taken too seriously, farcical. They generally entailed little work and proved more or less sinecures without pay. However, they had to be done, and no trouble incurred.

A.W. Preston

 

GAGETOWN CONCENTRATION 1956

During the summer of 1956 troops of the First Canadian Infantry Division concentrated at Camp Gagetown, N.B. Third phase cadets of the Canadian Services Colleges could be found employed throughout the whole division. Here, through practical experience, they gained an insight into tactical use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield. These lessons will prove invaluable and applicable to the cadets, no matter what corps or unit they will serve with on graduation.

Camp Gagetown is a military camp which will undoubtedly become more famous in years to come, not just as a summer concentration area but as a permanent home for a great many of the field units of the Canadian Army. Today it is renowned throughout the whole army for being either a sea of mud or a proverbial dust bowl; it is impossible to compromise these two extremes. Often the only relief from wet feet and dust-clogged throats was to be found in steam-baths at the St. John Y.M.C.A. or in the area mess in Fredericton.

Many incidents from the summer will always stand out in our memories: the Governor General reviewing the division at Blissville airport in a thunderstorm; No. 3674 Lt. Len Creelman winning the forced march competition at the divisional sports meet; 2 R.C.R.’s para-drop on the position H.Q. 3 CDN Inf Bde had occupied the previous day; and C Coy 1 R.H.C. capturing a battery of horse artillery. There were even occasions when we were thankful for the air force and navy types who flew close support missions. All the exercises were conducted with the enemy having air superiority and as a result we all have a better understanding of the role air power can play in any military operation.

A summer in Gagetown is not recommended to anyone seeking a pleasant holiday on the east coast but it provides an invaluable picture of the army in the field to the cadets contemplating careers as professional soldiers.

No. 3867 C.J. DeVaney
No. 3975 R.H. Smedmor

 

GERMANY, 1956

In more settled times, the traditional climax to an education was the Grand Tour of Europe. The Canadian government in its wisdom has seen fit to reinstate this admirable practice. As a result of this policy, twenty Third Phase Army cadets from R.M.C. were posted for a three month period to the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade in Germany.

The purpose of this attachment was to give cadets practice experience as junior officers in field units. Despite what you might expect from the numerous “war stories” we tell, we did get much very valuable military experience. We arrived in Germany during the Brigade Concentration at Sennelager. Shortly afterwards, all unit headquarters took part in Javelin IX, a British Corps command exercise held in the Kassel area. Then followed in quick succession watermanship training on the Mohnsee, exercise Orient Express, firing practice for the R.C.D. at Hohne and for No. 4 R.C.H.A. at Munsterlager, bridging training for the R.C.E. at Hamlin, and battalion exercises for the infantry at Borkenberg. The climax of the summer training programme was immense. The brigade’s training exercises, conducted on some of the finest training areas in the world, could not have been more comprehensive.

It was fortunate for us that there are a large number of ex-cadets serving with the brigade especially from the New One Hundred and the class of 1955. There were twenty ex-cadets or serving cadets with No. 4 R.C.H.A. alone, almost like an Ex-Cadet Weekend all summer.

The social aspects of our training were not neglected either. The Gunners celebrated the Artillery Birthday at the Regimental Ball at Tserlohn and many officer cadets attended the Confederation Ball at Brigade Headquarters. The Brigade’s Dominion Day Sports Meet and Military Tattoo at Dortmund were excellent and very inspiring. The Gunners also participated in the Ball Button Day Sports Meet at Hohne with four R.H.A. regiments from the British Army on the Rhine.

No. 3921 R.W. Strickland

For Army Summer Training 1956 Part 1 please see here.

For Navy Summer Training 1956 please see here.