This one will be a correction segment as in the last three segments I have carried on a mistake and here is what it is. So if you are saving any of the segments you can correct your copies or when all are posted it will be correct on the website. This is the error. I stated that we left Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth on the 15 th January 1946. Actually we left on the 8th or 9th arriving at New York on the 14th of January. I have in my possession the telegram sent to my mother saying arrived on the Queen Elizabeth 15th January 1946 leaving by special troop train today. I know we did not disembark the moment we arrived in New York but did the next day which was the 15th. Where I made my error in memory is that the 15th was in my mind and I knew it took five days to cross the Atlantic so that is where I put in the 20th. Also I have a copy of the Regina Leader Post 19th January 1946 and it details all the Saskatchewan Artillery units coming home to the small towns along the main line CPR. In this edition is a picture of we seven originals of the 76th Battery. So there you have it the memory took a left turn somewhere. Not many would have noted the dates. But who knows? This was the last crossing that the Queen Elizabeth carried troops. Gordie
New York January 1946. Our battery had all been reunited and with full packs we waited for our turn to march off the Queen Elizabeth. It seemed quite a wait but that did not bother us as in a few moments we were down a gang way and standing dockside.
Not quite home but here is what greeted us. A number of American Red Cross ladies were handing out doughnuts and cardboard containers of milk, also coffee and maybe soft drinks. The type of milk containers were new to us and the ladies also gave out straws to drink this milk.The first drink of milk any of us had in years. Orme Payne said look Gordie what I'm doing. I looked and could see nothing out of place. He was not pinching the ladies behinds or any thing so I said what am I to see? He answered Gordie I'm drinking milk. Well this was something. Orme never drank milk since he was a baby. I think it must have been the joy of being on the way home or the good looking RED CROSS ladies.
There was a band playing as the ship docked. Also I may add that all down the Hudson River banners stories high had WELCOME HOME BOYS. These banners were likely from the welcome they had given some million or so GI's that had proceeded us but it looked okay.
Not much time was spent on the dock and we were instructed to board a ferry to take us to Newark New Jersey. Here we marched onto waiting trains to take us home.
As we journeyed through the countryside we kept looking out and enjoying each minute of the trip I do not remember what railway point that we entered Canada but it could have been at night.
The area we were traveling through was well snow covered. We were going along all pretty quiet lost in our own thoughts when one of our fellows hollered Gordie come quickly. Now what emergency could this be? I ran down the rail car to where this fellow stood and he was looking out the window of the train and said LOOK GORDIE RABBIT TRACKS! Well a Canadian boy knew we were close to home when you saw rabbit tracks. I have often thought that it was a fine moment in time and I have never forgotten the joy of this fellow seeing rabbit tracks.
The train rolled along the wheels putting out the same noise as they did when we went overseas. Remember the next time you are on a train and the wheels. GO JACK"S AND SIX"S JACKS AND SIX"S think of all the tens of thousands of servicemen and women who went to embarkation points with that Jack's and six's refrain in their memory. While on the train we were able to send telegrams to folks along the way in hope they would meet our train.
As we pulled into Kenora Ontario quite a few of the old regiment were down at the station but they were now civilians and there was that sense of distance they had formed a great part in our lives but now it was so strange to talk to these civilians and I even think they found that we were different too.
That part of our stop I find it hard to explain. I had sent a wire to Norma Ainlay who was working in Winnipeg to let her know would be coming through. Norma had wrote many letters to me overseas. She I think was engaged to a Winnipeg chap but I go back in time once again. Norma in the year of 1938 was holidaying at Lac Pelletier with her mum and sisters, all from the small town of Pambrun. I was at a dance at the lake and after the dance was to walk Norma to her cabin. I was wearing my first felt hat large brimmed and when Norma and I went to kiss good night the brim hit her on the forehead and rolled off down toward the lake with me in pursuit. I think I still hear this young girl's giggle in my ears as I caught the hat in a flash but Norma was gone into their cabin.
Back now to the train pulling into Winnipeg. At about midnight I was already to step out on the platform as soon as the train stopped. Yes Norma was there waiting along with an older woman who said where is Orme? This lady was Orme's aunt and she had found out from Norma that Orme and I were due in this night. Orme's aunt was able to get Norma up to the train side as she had worked during the war serving coffee to the troop trains. I went back on the train and having to shake Orme awake as his aunt was outside waiting. Orme and his aunt and Norma and I were all standing on the platform Norma kept jumping up and down and would hug and kiss me then do the same for Orme. All the time exclaiming aren't you fellows excited to being almost home? I guess we were but just I still could not believe we were so close to home. This was a mighty cold night but Norma's display of pure good feeling and warm welcome made all feel pretty darn good. Norma married, and I along with Edith (my wife) met her once again about 1995. Of course I reminded her of the way she had greeted Orme and me. She said she could not remember that she had kept hugging us. Oh yes we remembered we now had been hugged on the train platform by a real prairie girl. Like rabbit tracks we were close to home.
As the train clicked the miles across the prairie we went through home towns of many of our fellows. Somewhere east of Indian Head on the CPR we were interviewed by a reporter from the Regina Leader Post who did a write up and a picture of the seven original battery members coming back to the76th Bty Armory at Indian Head where we would be finally sever our connection with the battery. The seven members were RSM George Green, BSM Gordie Bannerman, Sergeants Orme Payne, Jack Parr, Bert Townsend, Chuck Watson, and Peter Powless.
Arriving at Indian Head we stepped of the train to a band playing and a great welcoming committee. I assembled the battery and turned the parade over to Capt Murray Forbes and we then marched off to the armory for a dinner and a drink. BSM Bill Lloyd who was the BSM before I became BSM 76Bty, always proper military, said sergeant major could I join you in the march to the armory. Bill would have had a tear in his eye. We marched to the armory had the speeches and a drink and some food.
All this was great but let us get on getting to Regina. Murray Forbe's dad was a judge and had a car so he drove Orme and me and his son Murray into Regina.