Who Am I?

Who am I?

By E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC ‘03)

  • I was born in Auckland, New Zealand on October 11, 1919. My parents, Harold and Janet, raised my sister and I in Sydney, Australia, and then Victoria, B.C.. My father was a Merchant Marine sea captain and my mother was a housewife. My father was a prisoner-of-war in Germany for 17 months during the First World War.
  • At the outbreak of the Second World War, I was in my final year at Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston.Classes were canceled and “all members of the senior class joined the forces.” I signed up in Halifax on October 2, 1939, with the Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE). “On graduation from RMC I had decided to become a professional engineer.”
  • My sister, Helen, enlisted as a nursing sister. My vessel – carrying Australian and New Zealand Forces to Gallipoli – was captured by the Germans and then sunk off New Guinea.
  • During the war, I served in Britain, Italy (after “Ortona to the end of the campaign,” Belgium and the Netherlands. In Italy, I served as second in command of the 4th Canadian Field Company, RCE and then commanding officer of the 2nd Canadian Field Park Company and the 3rd Canadian Field Company, respectively. I had minimal contact with the civilians but the little we did have as “friendly.” The country was “most of the time very dirty,”and the streams were “very subject to flash flooding after heavy rain.”
  • I remember “several close calls” during the war but escaped getting wounded. My proudest memories include “working hard to overcome the obstacles, rivers and mines to keep the division advancing.”
  • I didn’t return to Canada until 1946 since I was a member of the occupation force in Germany. By then I was a major. I remained in Canada’s Armed forces until 1972, retiring as a colonel. I then became an engineer with his positions including senior highway engineer for the Alaska Highway and regional engineer for the Government of Ontario. Retiring in 1984, my wife Anne and I live in Victoria, B.C., where I make time for golf and travel, as well as my children (by my first wife, Jean, who died in 1975), stepchildren and grandchildren.

a) 2380 Colonel (Ret’d) Desmond N Deane-Freeman (RMC 1934)

b) 2428 Colonel (Ret’d) James M. Houghton (RMC 1934)

c) 2541 Colonel (Ret’d) John S Orton (RMC 1936)

d) 2543 Colonel (Ret’d) Donald MC Saunders (RMC 1936)

e) 2483 Colonel (Ret’d) T Fred Slater (RMC 1935)

Answer: d) 2543 Colonel (Ret’d) Donald “Dutch” Saunders, CD (RMC 1936)

Source: Heroes Remember


  • Hugh J.M. Spence

    April 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Not sure whether e-Veritas is the place for it, but it might be instructive for olde fartes like myself to be given a “signs & symbols” glossary for reference. Actually, two of such guides would be nice:

    (1) Numbers: something would be useful on the current system or methodology of college number prefixes and their meaning, which seems to have proliferated – A, H, W, S, RRA, RCNC, etc. (H & RCNC are perhaps obvious.) I’m prompted to ask this on seeing (on p. 61 of the latest paper Veritas) that Gen. Ramsey Withers, despite his being in full cadet uniform and evidently full RR experience, has an H-prefix. And it seems that widows may now use the W prefix? I’m not sure that is well known if it is true. I should note that my brother-in-law, Gord Henderson, produced an intriguing TV film about the College with one “all RMC” family as a focus, and I know he was particularly taken by the enduring college number tradition.
    (2) Cadet uniform insignia: the symbology of current cadet rank badges, pins, etc. could use an explanation. Prompting this is the colour photo in the Foundation’s 2008 donors’ flier that shows what appears to be a “IV” cadet with a three-bar pin on his collar rather than sewn bars, and a “IV” lady cadet 4-bar with sewn collar bars and more intriguingly the addition of a curious gilt maple leaf pin. It’s probably a long time since 3-bars got sewn collar insignia, but it would be instructive to know who gets what today, including the additional pin.

    6439 Hugh J.M. Spence
    Secretary for Life
    Class of 65

  • rmcclub

    April 21, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Good points, and good ideas. We might be able to slip in such a “feature” in an upcoming edition.

    As for Point (2): a “IV” cadets refers to the year the Cadet is in, thus a Cadet would be from I to IV year. As for the collar bars, they denote “rank” or position. A three bar pin could signify a Cadet Flight Leader, whereas four sewn bars would signify a Cadet Squadron Leader. 4 and 5 bar positions have their bars sewn onto the collar, 2 and 3 bar positions have pins instead. Years are indicated by the epaulet and sleeve flashing.

    As for the maple leaf pins: there are gold and silver pins, which denote the Class Senior and Deputy Class Senior. Each year has one of each and they serve as that year’s representative.

  • Neil Johnstone

    April 21, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I agree with Hugh Spence that it would be useful if the methoddology for college number prefixes be explained. Why do graduates like Gen John de Chastelain and Gen Ramsey Withers have a prefix “H” similar to non-graduates like the Governor General? Another prefix not included in Hugh’s list is “M”. Look forward to an explantion.

    4804 Neil Johnstone
    Calss of 60

  • Victoria Edwards

    May 25, 2009 at 9:23 am

    2543 Colonel (Ret`d) Donald M. Saunders (RMC 1940) was in his senior year at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario in 1940 when Yosef Karsh took this photo. His daughter Sue Simandl submitted the photo, which is a family treasure, as part of an enhibit of photographs taken by Yosef Karsh.