Not all was training. I remember going to a dance in Petawawa village. These dances were held in a not too large, smoky hall. Not many civilian men except the band, the rest were engineers, and artillery men, known as Sappers and Gunners. I was not a great dancer, but was dancing when a shout went up that the sappers were beating up on the gunners. The hall soon left the women standing as the gunners rushed outside. The girl I was dancing with said, "Are you not going to go and help your fellow gunners?" Well seeing she put it that way I, not looking to get in a fight, went out to see what was going on. Well I was met with my life long friend Orme swinging his fists at me, and no one else around. I calmed him down with saying, "This is Gordie, what in hell happened to you?" Orme had his tunic off and there was blood running down his neck from a cut up the back of his head. Here is what happened. An engineer Sergeant [an irishman] was the one that hollered into the dance hall causing the gunners to run out the door. As they came running out this sergeant with one blow to the back of the head to all drove them into a car parked there. After hitting all that came out he having had his fun went back to camp. Well the Petawawa Camp was in an uproar, gunners against sappers was going to be the big fight next Saturday. Cooler heads prevailed and the whole camp was confined to the camp area for the next weekend. All caused by a so called fun loving engineer sergeant.
I saw this Sergeant on board the Oronsay [troop ship ], and I mentioned the great fight at the dance and he admitted it was just him and he enjoyed a good dust up. I again saw this chap on the Hitler Line in Italy standing beside a caterpillar tractor that had been filling a crater. Well the job was going well but the sneaky germans had planted a 250 pound bomb in the bottom of the crater. This bomb blew the tractor to pieces, but It did not kill the operator , A miracle indeed, as the tractor was well torn apart. I do not remember seeing this engineer sergeant ever again, but with his touch of humor I hope he survived. He came from Toronto. I wish I could recall his name an Irish.... Mc-------- after all these years it wil have to be lost in memory.
The Petawawa river had a few good swimming spots and also quite a man structured channel, breakwaters and other things built by logging companies to facilitate the log drives in the spring. This was all very new to a prairie farm boy. The rapids and fast flowing water was something else. And here lies the story. Gunner Ooms a Saskatchewan chap was swimming in the pool caused by a back eddy in the river. Well he went under and did not resurface. Someone came running into camp for help. George Hegan and I heard the call so ran down to the river just in time to see Ooms' body being tumbled along the fast flowing river. George and I went to get him and we managed to get him onto the rocky shore. I was worried about covering Ooms nakedness. George said we are here to try and save his life not to worry about him being naked. Well George, using the methods of resusitation, could not get any sign of life and if memory is correct the medical staff from camp came with a stretcher and took the body away. After it was all over I checked my watch [given to me by my folks ]. It was stopped, ruined by the water. A sweep hand watch was a must for a gun sergeant. It was a sad day when Ooms died as it was one of our first deaths and not by enemy action. as the years went by we were to experience many more , ,,,..