Above: Photo of #290 John Edwards Leckie taken sometime during his service with the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), 1914 – 1918.
RMC – Forty Years On
By 290 J.E. Leckie
Originally written in 1933
Transcribed by 12570 Mike Kennedy
There were always the sports in the autumn. As a recruit I had to rub down Eddy Morris (218 R.C. Morris), rub his legs. He was a very good athlete and won the bugle that year. I hated the obstacle race but had to go in for it with the other recruits. I think I might have won it if my heart had been in it. Rogers who was Third Class Man then, won it, he always went in for it. In my last year Hollingshead made up his mind he would go in for the mile race. He trained faithfully and came in first or second. He was not at all the build for a runner but went at it hard. Armstrong B was a good man in our class so was Sweny.
In my class, 286 Hollingshead, H.N.B. went to the Gunners. Never saw him again.
287 Armstrong, B.H.O. – went R.E. and was a Colonel at the War Office, now retired, I think.
288 Baker, H.C – did not graduate, clever chap. Went to the Bell Telephone.
289 De Boucherville, C.F.J.B. – lawyer in Montreal.
291 Bell, P.W.W. – Civil engineer in British Columbia.
292 Farley J.J.B. – went to the North Staffordshire regiment. Ran across him in South Africa during the Boer War. Now retired.
293 Armstrong, C.J. – Saw him in South Africa. Now G.O.C. of one of the Canadian Districts.
294 Strickland, R.H. – Don’t know what became of him.
295 Warner, J.T. – In Columbus or Cleveland Ohio. He was an American born.
296 Sweny, W.F. – Royal Fusiliers. Saw him in war in England. Brigadier General.
297 Pousett, H.R. – Trade Commissioner
298 Musgrave, E.C. – Mining engineer, have not seen him since College.
299 Lamb, H.J. – Was Colonel on staff during war, now government work in Toronto.
300 Maunsell, E.St.J. – Died not a great many years after graduating.
301 Burnham, A.W. – Accidentally killed while hunting shortly after leaving.
302 Pruyn, D.B. – Did not graduate. Died of fever in Africa. Wounded in Matalbele War.
We had a bear for a time, chained up outside. He would get loose at times and there would be a great chase after him, officers, staff, and cadets. I took him, one night, when Strickland was out girling, and put him in Strickland’s room. S came home late and was greeted by the bear who had torn about everything to pieces in the room.
When I was a recruit Tom Brown (213 T.H. Brown) , a First Class Man, coming across the parade saw a horse’s head sticking out of the window. An old nag had been led into the barracks and put in his room, to be careful, a piece of china had been placed behind the nag.
Bill Cooke (227 W.E. Cooke), a First Class Man when I was a recruit, had a girl in town and used to sneak out to see her, he would in to the top flat via the fire escape. Jim Domville (216 J.W. Domville), knowing this, one night after Bill had gone out, painted the fire escape green. Cooke came home and climbed in, suspected the author of the outrage which had ruined his uniform, and I heard a great row going on in Domville’s room. D had a beautiful black eye the next day and Cooke was very much disheveled. Recruits were sent constantly to Cooke and told to hand him a piece of green ribbon or paper, not knowing what it was all about we were mystified by the terrible reaction we got from Cooke. C was killed in Central Africa, shot by an officer who had gone insane and was being escorted to the coast.
Brough brought the mail and was Q.M. Sergeant. He was a stalwart Orangeman and the cadets were not slow in commenting on him as to how he looked in the grade carrying some emblem. However, it behooved us to stand in well with Brough so as to get a decent forage cap or kit generally. One very stormy day when Brough was in town for the mail he got a glass of beer too much. The mail bag had slipped coming home and Cataraqui Bridge was strewn with RMC letter. One from Sir Charles Tupper to the Commandant was especially noticed.
Sergeant Major Brogan was Hospital Sergeant Major. Funny old duck with glasses. The last year cadets were weighed just before final exams and after and of course they all lost weight. However, when we were paraded for the final weighing we were in recreation clothing. I got Jimmy Warner and we each slung a 24 pound dumbbell by a leather strap around our necks, and let the bell hang in the small of our back where it would not be noticed. Brogan was stupefied to think that two gentlemen had gained so much in such a short time. He weighted us twice, looked us over, and told us we would have to parade before the M.O. the next morning. We paraded but cut the bells down to 12 pounds. The Commandant noted this gain of two cadets in his final address.
When we were recruits DeBrury (268 Count de Bury et de Bocarme, H.R.V.) and others in the Third Class were learning about stinks in chemistry. They, one day, strewed our classroom floor with nitro-iodide, put this on the seats and in the desks. Then there was an awful stench, they locked the doors and had tubes of H2SO4 run through the key holes.
Colonel Cotton, later General Cotton, was in command at “Tittypont”. His children were building a snow house in the barrack square there one winter day. They got inside and the house collapsed. No one noticed it at the time and when they were rescued it was all that could be done to revive them. One son was killed in South Africa and two in France with a son-in-law. There is a grandson, a graduate now.
Murray Hendrie (354 M. Hendrie), from Hamilton, was a bit of a bird. He is dead now. He left his gas turned on too high and when he returned to his room his ceiling was black. Thinking he would get in trouble for it he climbed on his table and proceeded to pipeclay his ceiling. You can imagine the result.
Charlie Stewart (355 C.J.T. Stewart) was another lad. Good at rugger, football, tennis, whist, poker, cricket, etc. I met him in many different places later. He was with the Princess Patricias in France, very nearly burned to death in a tent, together with Papineau was badly wounded and a Parson sent for. The Padre asked if he should pray and Stewart said “Yes, Padre, pray like hell.” Stewart was killed while in command of the regiment, near the end of the war.
Sergeant Major Morgan (Muggins) was Drill and Gym Instructor. Late Scots Guards. We were all very fond of him. He would sometimes come to the gym in the evening to box and if he had a glass or two he was dynamite. Never lost his temper, just had some fun. He was the champion fencer, bayonet fighter, swords of Canada. We would go to local tournaments and cheer him wildly. He was a very fine soldier.
I forget the name of another Drill Instructor we had from the British Army. He would say, “Order arms, now quickly with these butts on the floor of the gymnasium”. He remarked to me one day when looking on some cows that had come down on the ice of Navy Bay, “Aye, the cows have come down on the hice to heat”.
Billy Burns’ in Barriefield, manys the beer we downed there. And Pete Devlin’s in town, what good meals he would give us and what drinks. Of course, it was out-of-bounds, but Pete’s was a good place and he was certainly a good old scout, Gawd rest his soul.
For Part 3 of this series please see here.
For Part 2 of this series please see here.
For Part 1 of this series please see here.