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A boy soldier.

A boy gunner in the artillery at 15 !


Like my friend Shelsing, I got in the reserve army early-almost by accident. A gunner from "C" Battery RCHA in Winnipeg appeared at our high school, in uniform with brass buttons, a bandolier and spurs- very impressive! He offered a signals course, three afternoons after school each week, in the Brandon armouries with a $36 dollar reward if we qualified. It was big money in those depression days! I was just getting into radio, in those days, so signed up, with several of my pals. Soon we were exposed to telephones, lamp signalling, heliograph, morse and semaphore flags and buzzer and other interesting things.

Soon we were at training camp for two weeks
An 18-pounder gun firing at Camp Hughs in 1934

After the six weeks signal course, the hook came. Qualification (and the $36) would be at annual training camp with one of the local artillery batteries. Soon we were signed up as boy gunners and signallers-issued uniforms- smelling strongly of moth balls- and began two nights a week training with the 59th Brandon Battery, which proved very interesting. By summer we were "ready" for annual camp. Two great big horses were brought to our school, after hours, and we were led around, learning the army's "near" and "off" sides, and, after a few minutes, declared ready for annual camp.

We got to training camp- fortunatly by truck- and settled down in bell tents on the sandy ground. Everything was by bugle call. We qualified as signallers, then proceeded to be gunners on the 18-pounder guns. Saturday was live firing day- a big experience! My pal was the gun layer the first day. Each time the gun fired, he fell off the layers seat in pure funk. Then the gun mis-fired, but he fell off anyway! On a later shoot, I was to repeat his performance.


On the first day with horses- fortunatly from "C" Battery, and regular army horses- very wise- we got mounted, with some difficulty. As a signaller I had a telephone, signalling lamp, a reel of cable and a long stick for guiding telephone lines. The captain drew his sword and ordewred "battery trot>" That was a mistake- the horses promptly trotted, we didn't! The sergeant major, a regular army guy, galloped ahead with, "take a look at your battey, sir." And there we boy soldiers were, sitting on the ground amid the wreck of our equipment.

The Brandon Batteries retuning from camp Shilo
A later camp about 1940


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