Here we were in a new country new customs, and all that went with it. The barracks were old as the devil. One of our gunners, a Rupert Peagarn [ I think I have mis pelled his last name ], Rup was in Waterloo West Barracks in WWI and Rupert's father and Grandfather had been in the same barracks during the Boer war. These barracks had been built probably almost a hundred years before, as the area around Aldershot was picked for the large tracts of land that could be used for training great numbers of troops.
We had not been long in England when we were issued with 24 brand new twenty-five pounder guns, fresh from the manufacture.
Then just before Christmas, we had a new Colonel, as Major McNeil, the 2fic had been acting as such. Our new colonel was Col. Ken Landers, who came to us from the 11th Army Field regiment. He was a very short man and had been in the permanent force. He was soon to make his presence known and through his spit and polish. The regiment became, Landers Lilies, a name most artillery men did not want to be tagged with. But over the years with the discipline, and spit and polish, we were a terrific regiment.
The old barracks were actually filthy when you looked closely at them. Heated by tiny little coke fired fireplaces [if youwere issued any coke], the gunners were in the second storey of the barracks. On the ground floor, the guns were stored, and the gun tractors. A great paved parade square with barracks surrounding it. We soon found out all about the parade square, putting in many hours of drill both foot and gun drill. Guards were mounted here with loaded rifles. I do not know which of our chaps that was on guard when an English soldier came and said he was not going to give a password and he was going to enter our barrack area. Our chap went through the proper drill a couple of times in case this fellow was testing our procedures. Well this Enlish bloke said our guard was just a f- ing Canadian and would not shoot. This Canuck stated that he would and after telling the bloke once more fired a shot between his legs. The bullet took a chunk out of the pavement and whistled off across Aldershot. If this fellow is still alive l imagine he is still running. The word soon got out not to fool with a Canadian with a loaded rifle.
In the barracks the gunners had a type of mattress that was in three sections, we called them biscuits, some called them sons of biscuits. These biscuits were horrible things and dirty. The blankets had not been washed since the Boer war, causing the gunners to sleep in uniform or if they slept in their underwear it soon was coal black. Capt Floyd Brooks, on an inspection, thought the men were dirtier than pigs. But one man, a Vic Mc Carthy ,went to Capt, Brooks and said everything is so dirty the men have no choice but being filthy. Vic went on to say we have no soap no scrub brushes, and on top of that the blankets are not fit for an animal. Capt Floyd Brooks, man that he was, apologized to the men.He had soap and scrub brushs issued and had the blankets washed. The British who of course were getting paid by the Canadian Goverment for everything did not want to spend any money on any thing. I believe the wash money came out of regimental canteen funds.
There was fun here too. Our introduction to the British pub, and all the different ales, and the time honored beer called mild and bitters. Fish and chips sold to you from vendors and wrapped in newspaper. Ah the indigestion from all the oil that had been heated over and over hundreds of times that the fish and chips were cooked in. The Ritz Theatre. We had never seen a building so large for a show. Here in this theatre the massive Wurlitzer Organ came up from the lower levels . I understand there is only one of these wonderful Organs left in the world. So all was not too bad, you just had to go with the flow and make do.
I will start at Christmas 1941 or there abouts. Oh yes Pearl Harbour happened on 7th Dec. 41.
We were glad we came to Britain, not Hong Kong.