Now seeing we're in troops , training started at, we thought, at a good rate. Well, as we did not have any artillery pieces, the training was guard duty, route marches, close order drill, and being issued with more equipment. If I remember correctly, we were issued with web equipment here. Now that was puzzle in itself. How to put it all together? As there was no one that had used this new type before. Well it all went together - big pack, small pack water bottle, ground sheet. Steel helmets did not come until later.
During our time here, they had a family day. I was introduced to some of the fellows' wives as their Sergeant. Now one of the chaps was WW1 veteran I was in awe that this, not dry behind the ears chap, would be so honoured as to be introduced to his wife. This was Percy Gaye. A fine fellow who was giving my ego a boost and I never forgot him.
Getting ahead of the story, Percy went overseas with us but was sent back to Canada because of his age. We could have used his like in the tough days ahead ].
Well this is not a wild story of sex and the young sergeant, as I was writing to a couple of girls in southern Saskatchewan, so did not take out any of the Indian Head girls . Now the girls were there and some of the fellows were on the chase right way. These three stripes sort of held me in check. I had made up my mind that I was going to succeed and be a gun sergeant then if the war lasted and I survived to become an officer.
Discipline came easy to me. Mind you I likely took myself fairly seriously and I suppose I lost a few gunner friends in doing so. But as the years went by I always was a voice to stand by those that needed a friend and someone to plead their case when they were in trouble. I was NCO that the gunners knew my word was good.
The stay at Indian Head was short and soon we were to pack up and leave. Orders were posted to let us know we would leave in the next few days so we could have loved ones to see us off. The one girl, Louise, I thought would come to see me off, could not come. So the night before we left I wandered around with an older sister of one of our chaps. She was older then I and had come as a chaperone for her younger brother's girl friend. So Helen Jordison and I wandered around all night, and ended up seated on the hard bench at the railway station. I do not think her younger brother married the girl that came to see him off, and I cannot remember if I ever saw Helen Jordison again. I think she is still alive and about 85 or older now. So ended the stay at Indian Head.
Eventful in new experiences, new officers, and petty jealousy over promotions that lasted quite some time. This is where you made friends for life , also found out who knew their stuff, who were brown noses, and who loved life and all around them. This latter group were the ones that really counted. Some did not survive but they enjoyed life and lived for the moment.
Some of my best friends were also promoted here,and one in particular was Orme Payne who went to school with me, and all through the war, and home together. We keep in touch at least three times a week, I will write more on Orme and some of the others as the story goes along.
We left Indian Head on the 4th October 1940 by train, and meeting up with another train at Portage La Prairie. This other train had the 37th field battery on board. Our destination was Petawawa Ontario, situated along the Ottawa River on one side, and the Petawawa River on the other. Yes, this was our second journey and it held a lot of unknowns as did the many journeys after that. But the trip through the hard woods of Ontario was a riot of the most beautiful fall colours. I wrote home about all that glorious scenery, and to this day I still get a thrill out of remembrance of that train ride and the fall colors. Coming from the bald wind blown prairie this was paradise.
Mind you, on arriving at camp we were soon in the furthest away lines of huts, as the camp was being expanded to house hundreds more. The lines were alphabetical , and ours were the V lines. This caused some comment, but was not given any thought.
I will close down for another day.
Still seems dry reading so I will have to get down and remember some of the good things.
So Petwawawa, here we were for another thirteen months, but we could not see into the future and that was a blessing too.