We were now getting into the feeling of being a regiment, and were getting more training all the time, also we suffered through the regimental parades that were for our Colonel Thackray's inspection. But most often it was for some visiting Brigadier General or higher ranking officers who, it seemed, never were at the designated inspection area on time, Standing in the hot sun with full pack sort of started to lose its [what are we waiting for[ attitude. But we survived and all of this seemed to teach us something.
At the time we sort of had that song in mind, "Always Bloody Well Waiting". Training on the gunnery ranges in Petawawa was something new, and the thrill of firing live ammunition was the culmination of what we were. That was gunners, and firing guns was what we were supposed to do. All the live firing was carried out by experienced personnel watching all our moves . But one will never take away that first round that you fired. The sharp crack of the eighteen pounder, the muzzle flash, the long recoil of the gun barrel, and of course the recuperator putting the barrel back to firing position once again. What a moment! Then if the weather was just right you could see the shell arch into flight going away to the distant target. Hoping that you had given the right information to your gun layer and he did not make a mistake because you checked and hoped that the observation officer had made the correct call and the target was hit.
4.5 Howitzers were different than the 18 pounder as they fired a larger shell, but the ammunition was not fixed. You rammed home the shell then placed bags of cordite in varying charge and the firing was done by pulling a lanyard.
As the training progressed, we carried out fire and movement. That is where a troop of four guns or more were driving along a road the signal would be given Action Right or Left or whatever, you swung off the road and put your guns ready for action, your gun position officer relating orders to the guns to fire on distant target , This target information came from observation officers who wanted to engage a target in a real hurry. Caused a lot of excitement and competition between troops and other batteries in the regiment who could fire the first shot and hit the target with a round of gunfire from the whole troop .
We never seemed to get enough live ammunition to fire, unless you were the ranging gun in the troop who certainly had their share. I was then a junior gun sergeant and had the number three gun in the troop. In fact even when I was the senior sgt in the troop, I still held on to my gun and did so until I was transfered to Regimental Head quarters. That gun was EC. The E was E troop third gun as the guns were abc&d in each troop, with the troop letter in front EA EB EC ED a four gun troop.
This will be the end of #17