Readers have their say…
On regular occasions we receive ‘comments’ from readers that most of the time are right on the mark! Because many of these comments are left well after many of the ‘other’ readers have reviewed the article we feel that these ‘other’ readers have missed out on something interesting.
Consequently, we have ‘cherry picked’ three of these comments. We hope you enjoy reading them.
2944 John D. Reid – photo left:
Comment Notable Ex Cadet – ‘2120 Desmond Smith: Successful military officer & businessman’ ;
In early June,1953, just a few days following our graduation from RMC, classmates D.B. McPherson and J.D. Grant and I set sail from Bermuda on the Royal Navy frigate St. “Austel Bay”, bound for Portsmouth, England, and a summer of cycling throughout England, Wales, Scotland and much of Europe. By chance at a tea held at the RMC Commandant’s home a few weeks prior to graduation we had met the commander of the Royal Navy Western Atlantic, who arranged our passage to England on the “St. Austel Bay” when he learned of our need to cross the Atlantic to begin a bicycle tour of Britain and Europe.
Once we had made our way to London we of course first explored London prior to purchasing bicycles and setting out on our “tour”. On our very first day in London as we three were walking smartly down the Mall in our RMC blazers a very distinguished gentleman coming from the opposite direction stopped us and requested our RMC numbers. Of course he was an ex-cadet. And yes, he was Desmond Smith.
Our meeting on the Mall turned out to be a stroke of very good fortune for we three. When Smith learned in conversation with us of our “free” passage to England via the British Navy, and that we therefore had with us our Canadian Army uniforms, (a requirement of our passage aboard a Royal Navy ship, where we had been required to stand watch with the ship’s officers), he inquired regarding our arrangements for our return passage to Canada. We responded that we had yet to make the necessary arrangements. On learning this Smith instructed us to telephone him on our eventual return to London from our bicycle tour and he would place us on an RCAF transport aircraft returning to Canada from somewhere in England. Eventually this arrangement was fulfilled by Smith and in late August we three landed at Montreal’s Dorval Airport in an RCAF North Star transport plane.
The image of Desmond Smith stopping we three as we walked down the Mall in our RMC blazers on our first day in London that June 1953 day is embedded forever in my memory, and of course we are forever grateful for the transportation that he arranged.
But as a post script to my tale I must add that today in addition to my everlasting gratitude for the free passage back to Canada arranged by Desmond Smith, I blame that North Star transport flight from England to Canada, with its four un-muffled Rolls Royce engines roaring loudly at my stupidly unmuffled ears, for my present need to wear hearing aids in both ears as I approach my 87th birthday. But then perhaps my hearing difficulties result from other causes, and so without hesitation I continue to retain my gratitude to Desmond Smith for the North Star trans Atlantic ride that he arranged for we three.
5300 Robert Thomas – photo right:
Comment: 943 Billy Bishop: The Courage of the Early Morning;
If we are to recall the exploits of Billy Bishop, we should realize that much has been written in the fifty years since Arthur Bishop wrote his hagiographic account. Notwithstanding some efforts to denigrate his actions and courage, his exploits are well-worth remembering. A clear, well-researched view is essential. Starting with his RMC career, Ross Mckenzie’s “The Real Case of No 943 – William Avery Bishop”, available on the RMC Club website, corrects the many myths of his time at the College. David Bashow in “Knights of the Air – Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War” is an excellent source. More recently “Billy Bishop VC Lone Wolf Hunter” published by Peter Kilduff in 2014 is perhaps the most comprehensive authority. He relied on McKenzie’s paper for RMC details and authoritative sources in Canadian, British and German archives, including the Bishop papers at LAC. He examined in detail each of Bishop’s victories, attempting to validate them by cross-referencing British and German sources. He noted that there were many discrepancies, in part due to German records having been destroyed in WW II, but mostly by the difficulty of accurately establishing with precision the time and location of actions along with independent eyewitness accounts. Of particular value is his addressing the various negative perspectives that have arisen over time. His conclusions do nothing to diminish Bishop’s stature.
4197 Robert Day – photo centre:
Comment: Notable Ex Cadet: ‘1976 George Hees – Football Pro (Grey Cup winner) & distinguished politician’
I have lived in Ottawa since 1973. In all the years I’ve lived here “Gentleman George Hees” is the one politician I observed more than any other. Being a very fit man he would walk places rather than being driven. I had an office in “A” Building of old NDHQ and frequently observed his walking south on Elgin Street. I always wondered where he was going but with the benefit of hindsight, he was probably headed for the Army Officer’s mess on Somerset Street. He, his wife and friends, also sat in the same row as my wife and I at performances by The National Arts Centre Orchestra. They always arrived on time. Seldom early, but NEVER late. This tribute gave me great laughs and brought back fond memories.
As an ex Air Force type the preceding tribute to Billy Bishop was an added plus for me.