THE DON ROY NARRATIVE
VOLUME III

Don and Beth's Wedding Day
   After a six day crossing of the North Atlantic, the good Cunard Liner MS Saxonia tied up at a berth in the city of  Bremen, Germany.  Disembarking from the ship was the 2nd Battalion the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada along with their wives and children.  Beth, Heather and Donna were by then recovered after a bout of sea-sickness the 4th or 5th day out.  A special train had been provided to take us to our new home in the small city of Werl, Westphalia (pronounced Verl),  which is located about half way between larger cities of Dortmund and Dusseldorf.   On the eastern edge of Werl was a large collection of apartment blocks which was the PMQ area for our Battalion and dependants and which was to be our new home for the following 3 years and four months.

   In this strictly Canadian community was a small grocery store called the MLS (Maple Leaf Services) and in reality was very much a general store.  The camp for our Battalion was about three kilometers from the city and was called Fort St Louis.  Beside our camp was Fort Victoria which housed a Field Engineer Squadron and across the street from the Engineers was Fort Anne which was the home of our Brigade`s Field Ambulance as well as a hockey arena and another retail outlet which sold clothing, radio`s and record players, records, sporting and camping equipment etc.  Our Pipes & Drums had a single unit building which was living quarters for our single personnel which doubled up as practice area for us during inclement weather when it was impractical to be outside. We also had an administrative office which was more or less my responsibility.  Close by was a tennis court which was used by our band for band drill and just plain sharpening up foot drill.  I think we were all pleased and if you can use the word, a wee bit excited to be back in Germany where we were confident that we could look forward to lots of  engagements there in Europe.

   The new home for the "Roy`s" was in an apartment block at 1-D Birkenweg which was a six unit block, three floors with us on the middle floor. We had two bedrooms....a so-called master bedroom and one for Heather and Donna which was barely large enough to hold two single beds end to end but it was sufficient and we were happy with it.  We were also provided with the basics in furniture and the kitchen contained pots, pans, dishes, silverware and almost all a family needs for day to day living.  The basement of each block had a storage room for each family which was a real necessity as we needed storage space for incidentals such as suitcases, camping gear and items one doesn`t use in day to day living.

   This PMQ area wasn`t large enough to hold all the families so there was an overflow  to a British area in a city called Unna about fifteen minutes from Werl. Our Drum Major Mike Phelan drew a PMQ in Unna which was unfortunate as Mike couldn`t drive and never owned a car in Canada.  Speaking of cars...there was an Englishman called Smith who was an Officer in the British Army during WW2. He had met and married a German girl and stayed in Germany after discharge from the Army. It seems he was a good business man and had mastered the German language quite well so he took over the Peugeot dealership.  Now the Peugeot (pronounced "Pooshow) is a car made in France and at that time probably the most popular car in Europe and North Africa.  I met Mr. Smith  very shortly after our arrival and decided immediately to purchase a 403 which was their basic model.  Of course we didn`t have to pay any taxes on our cars while living in Europe and because I went to the German distribution point in the city of Krefeld to pick up the car which saved a few dollars...The price of this car at that time was $l47l (Canadian).  I was the first buyer of the Peugeot  in our Battalion and shortly after, there were three more sold to members of our Band, including Bill Gilmour and Billie Marshall. As I was a Peugeot enthusiast by then, I would take the guys to Krefeld  to pick up their cars.

   As well as our families living in PMQ`s, there were a few that lived in what we referred to as, "the economy" and simply, was living in German civilian accommodation with civilian landlords. Our personnel that chose to do this was  because there was no more room in PMQ`s,  to save money in rent and even for the experience of rubbing shoulders with the Germans to learn their language and culture.  One of our bandsmen to live on the economy was Al Jack.  Now Al was married to Christine McFarlane who was the sister of another drummer Bob McFarlane.  Al was a gifted drummer and an excellent instructor.  Unfortunately he did not excell  in "Man Management"  and was disliked by most of our pipers and drummers. I liked Al just fine and very much respected his ability and what he had done to bring our drum section to the professional level it enjoyed.  Al and I got along very well so he and Marilyn used to come visiting just for company and for a game of cribbage or whatever.  They had a wee girl, Christine who was about 2 to 3 years old.  Christine was a very cute child.  After breakfast Marilyn would bundle up Christine , then put her out to play with the wee German children, take her in for lunch, then put her back out until suppertime. It wasn`t long before Christine spoke and understood  German  better than English, which isn`t too bad at first glance, but when it came to pass that Christine wasn`t feeling well and tried to tell her parents what was wrong and they couldn`t understand because she spoke it in German and therefore had to fetch a German Hausfrau to interpret for her;  that was when they decided to move into the Cdn PMQ`s.

   You`ll recall my mentioning Yvonne Durelle, the heavyweight boxer that almost beat Archie Moore in a Championship fight had a sister named Pat.  Pat was married to a Cpl in our outfit, one "Arnold Flieger".  They came from the New Brunswick North Shore and were from French Canadian fishing stock, rough around the edges but both with a heart of gold.  Pat  especially became a good friend.  She was very heavy but in spite of this was really  quite pretty. Arnold and Pat had two boys,  Michael who aged with Heather and Gary who aged with Donna.  Michael was a real handfull and used to get into all kinds of trouble.  Back in Oromocto he rang in several false fire alarms and after the authorities had trouble proving it was him, they painted a special dye on the fire alarm in question.  Sure enough, Michael rang in the alarm, got the dye all over his hand and when the fire inspector came calling....there was no denying who was the culprit. Poor Michael sometimes, "took the rap" even when he wasn`t guilty, example as follows...one day at Camp, one of the fellows brought in a rubber "fake vomit".  It was the first time I saw one and thought it looked very real. I borrowed it to take home to show Beth.   Pat and Arnold lived on the ground floor, on the left side of our apartment block.  When I entered the block, I placed the "fake" on the floor in front of Pat`s door and then I knocked on her door and when she came I pointed to the floor and said, "look what someone did right at your door Pat"  She turned around, called Michael and when he came running she sent him flying with a hard back-hand.  I didn`t have time to stop her had I known she was going to blame Michael.  I bent down,  picked up the "puke" and couldn`t help but laugh at the amazement on Pat`s face.  I was really lucky I didn`t get a back-hand from her.

   As our Band was an integral part of an Infantry Battalion, it followed that we, as pipers and drummers were soldiers first and bandsmen second. After our arrival in Europe, the training started in ernest and everytime the Battalion went on schemes and/or exercises we went along as Defence Platoon for Battalion HQ`s.  When we were still "at home" we`d be subject to what was known as the "Bug Out".  This was when our Military Vehicles would drive through the PMQ area at 2 or 3am with all horns blaring.  It was each man`s responsibility to wake, dress in uniform and race to a pre-arranged area where he`d be picked up and transported to Camp.  Your sub-unit (in our case, the Band) would mobilize with all the equipment we possessed to fight a war, get in a pre-arranged vehicle which would proceed to a staging area until the word was given that the complete Battalion was present and ready to move.  We would then leave camp and proceed to a predetermined area where we would wait to get the word that the whole thing was a success or an exercise in futility. I recall the first time we had our "bug-out" that a few of our vehicles broke down before arriving at our "defensive" positions.  The response time was very poor so there was a lot of fingers pointed and a lot of soul searching after that.  The whole point was that we learned our weaknesses, worked on them and it wasn`t long before things started to proceed with a minimum of foul-up.  The training at the time was taken very seriously as shortly after our arrival in Germany, the Cuban missile crisis reared it`s very ugly head. War seemed very close and we were just a few short miles from the Russian Zone and East Germany.  Our equipment was very obsolete and we knew that if West Germany was invaded, we could hold out but a short  time only.

  Beth never had it easy while we were in Germany as the band spent considerable time on jobs that took us away a week or two at a time and then when we weren`t on the road we could end up out in the "bush" with the Battalion.  Once a year we would be involved on a NATO "Concentration when we would be gone six to eight weeks.  A hard time for the wives and difficult even for the troops but after all is said and done, that was precisely the reason we were there and after all,  it is the good times you remember.  Little incidents which lose in the telling are sometimes the best memories.  A good example;   once while we were on a NATO exercise, we, along with Recce Platoon went out to a position where we had been told by our "Intelligence" that the British SAS who were the very best  the British Army had to offer,  were going to come down a certain road. We arrived before dusk, dug in on  a hill overlooking the road just as it straightened out from a curve. We had machine guns and mortors covering the road where we had a barricade set up and so we settled down to wait.  It was about the end of Oct. and it rained a cold rain so we were rather uncomfortable.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Just after dawn a jeep loaded down with the SAS came around the turn and drew up to our barricade.  Our Drum Major Mike Phelan challenged them from our side of the barricade.  The password at that time was, "cheese" and the response was, "crackers".  Mike stood and shouted  "cheese" and while the driver of the jeep put his vehicle in reverse and was backing up, all of us opened fire. As we weren`t using live ammunition there was nothing we could do as they made their escape, however, we all had a good laugh as Mike was still standing shouting "Cheese" when we were shooting and the jeep was backing away from him.

 The summer of  "62"  saw our Band make a trip to Mons in Belgium where we took part in a "Musicfest". We travelled in our bus for about eight hours to get there so were a wee bit tired and hungry when we arrived. It was after the regular supper hour but the kitchen staff had waited for our arrival and proudly stood at the back of the kitchen as we sat down to eat a salad which was already on the table.  With great anticipation, each of us started into this potato salad which was covered with a thick creamy horrible tasting dressing.   Not one of us could put on a brave face and eat more of the salad.  We left it sitting untouched and the cooking staff who were obviously proud of what they had done for us were displeased to say the least.  I`ve always felt bad about that, however if you`d been there to taste this dressing, you`d have done as we did.

   The following morning we were contacted by a Belgique Air Force Medical Sgt named John Broka.  This gentleman could be classified in,  "the most interesting characters I have met" category.  He should have been born a Scot as he loved Scotland and everything Scottish. He was a self-taught piper and therefore, not a good one.  He was so obviously honored to be our interpreter and guide for as long as we stayed. After I knew him better he told me stories of being a young teen-ager when the German`s invaded Belgium.  Although a young civilian, he was shipped of to Germany to be used as "slave-labour".  He told me that most of this bleak period of his life was spent repairing rail yards after they had been damaged by bombings.  He described how they had been ill-fed and clothed and how many of his friends didn`t survive.

     After John joined our ranks, we piled on the bus and left this Belgique Air Base called "Chievre" and proceeded to the city of "Mons".  We unloaded the bus at the city square, tuned our Pipes and with John leading,  left the square with the Band playing.  John was in seventh heaven and was obviously proud as a peacock to be walking in the front of the band beside our Drum Major Mike Phelan.  We hadn`t gone more than a half block when John signalled us to stop.  It was beside of a small store front and when we halted a group of pretty young ladies ran up to us, pinned Mons insignia`s on our uniforms and presented us with tiny figurines of the "Mons Monkey" kissed as all (on the cheek) and we were again on our way.   At the end of that block we came to an intersection where perhaps five or six streets met.  In the centre was a policeman directing traffic.  John had us stop here and as we did, waiters from a pub came out with trays of beer, presenting each of us with the most delicious suds.  The Policeman directing traffic also had a beer and we really got  a kick out of him directing traffic with one hand and holding a beer in the other.  Believe it or not this is how we spent the remainder of the day was playing through the streets, stopping at pre-selected pubs for refreshments.   Each day we were there, we were the guests at restaurants for lunch which was fortunate as we were no longer welcome at the Mess Hall at Chievre.  The whole purpose of the trip was not to parade through the streets drinking free beer though and we did play at other functions in the evening.  One of the early evening jobs was to play a retreat ceremony in the City Square and on the final evening take part in a "Muzic-fest also in the square.

   Our Pipes & Drums were invited to participate that year in the Edinburgh Tattoo so it was a perfect opportunity for Beth and the girls to visit Beth`s Mom and Dad in Dunbar, Scotland.  It wasn`t too much problem for me to obtain authority to drive with my family to Scotland and meet the Band at  Redford Barracks which was our home for the duration of the Tattoo.  It meant I had to commute from Dunbar to Edinburgh which was about a one hour trip, sometimes more if I happened to pull up behind a slow-driving "lorrie".  Consider I am driving a car with a left hand drive and of course traffic in Britain drives on the left of the road  which means it is very hard to pass a truck or lorrie as it is difficult to pull out far enough to see on-coming traffic, however I always enjoyed those trips and for some strange reason enjoyed driving on the left .

   Mom and Pop Brunton were of course very happy to have us and being the first time they had seen their grandchildren, they tried to make up for lost time at spoiling them.  It was a period of nine years that Beth had not been home so only she can say how she felt as we neared Dunbar for the first time.  I will say though, that to outward appearances, I was more excited than she.   Beth`s older brother David was by then with the Australian Navy so we didn`t see him, However,  her younger  brother Andrew, was in the British Army and a member of the "Seaforth Highlanders" and did manage to come home for a wee bit to see his sister and nieces.  As I had responsibilities in Edinburgh I wasn`t able to be around much of the time but I did have the occasional opportunity to go for the messages with Mom Brunton and to renew acquaintances with some of her coffee crowd.  I say again that I had never been welcomed as much as I had on those visits to Dunbar.

   Reta Neary, our very best friend from Canada was visiting her relatives at Musselborough so one day we set off to visit her there.  Mom B. had come with us and we found Reta`s home without too much problem. While there someone had given Donna a steel Ball Bearing.  She was quite fascinated by it and on the return trip to Dunbar for some unknown reason she had it in her mouth and accidentally swallowed it.  Donna wasn`t too concerned except her new object was, "gone".  What makes this little story worth telling was the panicked reaction of Mom B.  Beth was calm, cool and collected.  She did a good job of calming her mother and then convincing Donna that she would probably retrieve her bearing the next day,  which in fact,  happened.   Mom B. sure loved her grandchildren and had them well trained to listen for the bells of the candy lorrie as it came down the street.  I don`t remember much about Pop as he never had a lot to say.  We got along very well,  but he was hidden behind his newspaper much of the time.

 Also taking part in the Edinburgh Tattoo of "62" was the Massed Pipes & Drums of the Pakistani  Army.  They were quartered at Redford Barracks and were pretty well self-contained including their own cooks and rations.  As anyone can tell you, taking part in a Tattoo is 10% performing and 90% waiting. We would travel to the castle in special busses, arriving well before the public started arriving. While you were doing all this waiting it allowed much time to talk to the other participants.  One Pakistani Piper I talked to and we in fact became good friends was  "Hans Singh Sidhu". He told me a great deal about his homeland in Pakistan and I of course told him about Canada.   One evening he asked to see the palm of my hand.  I showed it to him, he studied it and told me I would live to be an old man and never would I be wanting financially.  Well he`s been half right so far, I am now 67 years old and therefore half way to being an old man.  As far as finances, I`m not rich, but I am what you might say, comfortable.

 To get back to 1962/63, Beth and I, accompanied by our good neighbours, Arnold and Pat Flieger,  on a Saturday morning would travel from our PMQ`s in Werl to a city in Holland called Enschede (En-sked-ee) and in this city was,  every Saturday, a huge outdoor market.   It was very interesting and lots of fun but looking back on it, I think that most of the fun we had was the travelling with Arnold and Pat.  Arnold was a very quiet type guy and Pat was his opposite and they were a barrel of laughs.  I recall one day as we were going through a small German town, the street was very narrow and we were close to the sidewalk when we encountered an attractive young lady with about six small children in tow. Arnold looked at her and said something like,  “Boy! She sure has a big load” meaning all those kids.  Pat thought Arnold meant her breasts as she was wearing a tight sweater and filled it very nicely. She started thumping on him and Beth and I laughed so hard I almost had to pull over.    It was in Enschede that we experienced our first “Chinese” restaurant and the egg rolls there were unbelievable.  They were so huge that only one of them would constitute a meal….and they were delicious!!  It was on these trips that it was so convenient (and lucky for us) to have the Canadian Army license plates on our car as,  when we came back to the German border, there would always be a long line of cars reaching perhaps up to a half kilometer.  We quickly learned that we didn`t have to join in these long slow line-ups to get through customs. We would simply drive past the line up to Customs to be waved through with no wait and never a car search.   I`ve often wondered why our ears didn`t burn as we went  to the front of these queues.  Nato had some sort of deal that allowed us to be exempt from Custom searches at these Border crossings.  Good deal for us!

   Other friends who would accompany Beth and I on our wee shopping trips were Darryl and Betty Mason who lived across the hall from us in our PMQ.  Occasionally we would venture down to Frankfurt which was in the “American Zone” of Germany and we`d spend the entire day shopping at the American PX.  Frankfurt was about a 3 hour drive from our home in Westphalia and we would do the entire trip on the Autobahn which was Germany`s super highway built  in the 30`s to relieve the unemployment  which plagued Germany as well as much of the rest of the world in the 30`s.   That was probably the only thing that Adolf Hitler accomplished during his time as dictator that was positive in nature.  On one of these trips to Frankfurt, it was after we had left that city to return home that I looked at my gas gauge and noticed I was almost on empty.  We were issued with gas coupons that were valid only at B.P. (British Petroleum) Stations.  As we paid no tax when using the coupons, the savings were considerable.   Neither Darryl or I could remember whether there were any BP Stations along that section of the Autobahn.   We came to a Shell Station so I pulled in, got out of the car and went into the Station where there were 4 or 5 men standing talking  .   I asked the man who was obviously the proprieter,   in my very poor German  were there any BP Stations near there.   He said Ya Ya and pointing down the highway said,   "phumpshen (15) kilometer -  Come back!"    I said,  "Bitte??"   He repeated it so I, not knowing what he meant,  returned to the car and Darryl asked how I made out….I said,  “darned if I know, he said to go down the road fifteen kilometers then turn around and come back.   We decided we would go down the highway fifteen kilometers just to see what would happen.   We did and sure enough   there was a sign on the road telling us that the town just off the highway was called, “Kombach”    We got our BP gas.

The first year in PMQ`s at Werl we had no television whatsoever but compensated for that quite nicely by reading books, playing cards and visiting with friends.    Never to be forgotten was when one night Beth and I were over to Trevor and Laurie Paquin`s enjoying a drink   when Laurie excused herself to get up and make the lunch.   I was sitting beside Beth on a sofa and with the lull in conversation I stretched my arms straight up over my head. Unfortunately there was a huge painting with a huge frame hanging on the wall behind me.   Yup, you guessed it!!  My hands no more than touched this frame and the whole thing came crashing down on my head.    As I was quite hard-headed at that time, the frame disintegrated, damaging the painting as well as a couple inches of my head.  Thankfully Beth was sitting far enough from it that she escaped the wrath of the renegade painting!  I felt very bad about this bit of carelessness on my part  but Trev and Laurie were very gracious about the whole thing and assured us that the painting was not a Rembrandt or the equivalent.   It may have been very valuable;  I never did find out.   Trevor and Laurie were good friends, had no children and did a fair amount of travelling throughout Europe in their  VW Camper Van with their Black poodle “Eiffle”.   It was also about this time that we purchased a white miniature poodle and named her Freya which had been the name of a German Goddess.  Trevor and I, along with the two dogs used to hike often on Sunday mornings and it was during these hikes that Trev introduced me to Ox-Tail soup which in Germany,  was very popular and very good.

   It was sometime in “63” that our Band went to a small NATO Taptoe (Tattoo) that was in a small Dutch town called “Coevorden” which was right on the German border.  There was to be a Band from each NATO country and as there wasn`t enough hotels to hold them, the deal was that half of each Band was to stay in a hotel and the other half in private homes.   The second last band to arrive was the German Band. The Dutch citizens would have nothing to do with them so they all went to hotels, therefore when we arrived all of us went to the citizen`s homes.  Three of us were in a very lovely Dutch home and these people just loved Canadians. They treated us like honored guests and we were very flattered.   They explained to us that just before the Germans invaded Holland, a Panzer Corps had their tanks lined up at the border.  The Mayor of the town went out to talk with the Panzer Commander who assured him not to worry, they were merely on manoevres and had the best of intentions.  At dawn the following morning they invaded Holland and stayed until liberated by,  that`s   correct  it was Canadians!!    They said the hardest part of being occupied those years was the starvation.  The Germans confiscated much of their food and crops for their own use.  Not much wonder the Dutch were still bitter  all these years after the fact!.

Another memorable trip in 63 was the NATO Tattoo at Arnhem in Holland.  We stayed at a Dutch Army Base right in the city so transportation wasn`t a problem,  but the conditions in the Barracks were less than primitive.  The Tattoo was of three weeks duration and I`m not sure how much weight I lost in that short time.  Consider the toilet was merely a hole in the floor.  Handles were provided on the side of the stall for one to hang onto while squatting.  It doesn`t sound all that bad and wouldn`t have been if the toilets and washrooms had been cleaned occasionally.   The show itself was high quality and it was during the finale of each performance that the Massed Military Bands, with our Pipes & Drums on the Square with them, played “The Grand March from Tannhauser"   by Wagner.  If you have ever wondered (and why would you) what my favorite music is/was, this would be very close to the top.      One day, in the middle of this NATO Tattoo, all the Bands boarded special busses and embussed to Amsterdam.  We arrived very early and went directly to the Stadium (the name escapes me) where we spent the whole morning rehearsing    For lunch we were taken to a Gardens that were set up for us to partake of a luncheon that was provided by most of the big names in Holland and even Belgium.  Example, a small miniature bottle of Bols Gin which is native to Holland was donated by Bols,  Nescafe donated the coffee as well as small red plastic cups.  I still have mine and firmly believe that I`ve used (for juice) this cup each and every day since 1963 except of course when I haven`t been home.  That would make this cup 35 years old. One thing in particular I remember about this luncheon is, that after we ate,  I think it was the mounted band from France just broke out in song as we were still sitting around the tables which incidentally were in a beautiful setting of a well treed and flowered Gardens.   After the French Band finished singing, the Belgique Band did the same thing, then the Greek Band sang their version of, “Never On Sunday” which was very beautiful…All these people were excellent singers and the whole thing was very enjoyable until it was our turn….we had never been confronted with a situation quite like this and of course were not prepared so we suffered the embarrassment of “passing”.

   It was,  I think 22 Nov 63 that I turned on the radio in the kitchen one cold and rainy night…  Beth was in the living room talking to Pat Flieger.  I heard on the radio the newsflash that John F.  Kennedy was shot in Dallas… Unbelievable, I went in the living room to tell the girls…we were all stunned.  He wasn`t our President but like everyone else we had great respect for the man as a leader, especially as we had been in the hotseat during the Cuban missile crisis and it was through Kennedy`s leadership that saw us through that bad time.   A few days later I had been to a British Base at Utrecht in Holland playing (solo) at one of their Mess functions.  I was returning to Germany in my own wee VW Bug with my own German driver when Kennedy`s funeral was happening.  Something that stays with a guy….

   It was during the early sixties that the Belgique Forces were almost broke and had very poor and run down equipment.  Much like the Canadian Forces of today!    To help alleviate this condition the Belgique Forces held a huge Charity Show in Brussels.   Our Black Watch Pipes & Drums were a featured part of this show and we were quartered in Officer`s quarters in a small Belgian Army Base right in the city.  It was here that we were fed horse meat,  but  it was in the form of steaks and were very well prepared and to a man enjoyed by all!  The show was held in a huge complex which held a magnificent ballroom which was where we performed our part of the program.  We were ushered to a small theatre where we left our pipe cases and drum covers,  put on our Feather Bonnets and then were ushered to the ballroom where we waited our turn to perform.   When we arrived,  there were dancing girls doing their thing.  We couldn`t see their act but did see them as they came off and to a girl,  each was beautiful;  obviously hand picked throughout the country for this show.    Our Band went on and as far as I can remember, all went well.  After we finished we returned to the little theatre to leave our instruments before going back and watching the remainder of the show.   I was the first of the bandsmen to enter the theatre and as I did so, I was surprised to see that it was also occupied by the dancing girls, not unusual in itself but the fact that most of them were completely or partially naked and unconcerned, was to us,  unusual to say the least.   I turned around to watch the reaction of our pipers and drummers as they came through the door.   I think now how wonderful it would have been to have a video camera, especially as a drummer, Bob Leduc whose eyes boggled and jaw dropped open.   Precious!!     Some of our people tried to date the girls but they had no eyes for us as they knew we would have little money and if they were going out with anyone, it would obviously have to be someone of means!!

            As anyone who has travelled Europe and especially Belgium, will agree that their outlook of the human body and it`s natural functions are quite different than ours.    Case in point;   one day when we played at Mons we were the guests of  a large restaurant where we had a lunch.   After the meal I felt the need to retire to the Men`s room.  When I walked in I saw that the urinals were at the far wall.   There was another door to the right immediately behind the urinals.   While I was standing at the urinals, two ladies walked in and went through this door behind me which I then realized was the door to the “ladies restroom”.   This was just one of the things you would become accustomed to while living in Europe like all the, "relief stations" in the German cities…while you are in one and doing your thing at the urinal, a middle-aged "Frau" is mopping the floor at your feet.

   As well as living the "good" life travelling to various European cities we had more than a taste of the other side of being part of an Infantry Battalion.  Just about every time the Battalion was involved in Exercises our Pipes & Drums were very involved as our job in the field was Defence Platoon for BHQ (Battalion HQ).  Because BHQ was fairly static it followed that our biggest job was to "dig in" and set up defensive positions around the perimeter.  Bud Marshall and I were both qualified Machine gunners (30 Cal Browning) so we sat in our wee trench with our wee MG.  Often though we would be borrowed to perform other tasks. Sometimes we had a choice and could volunteer or not.  Sometimes we had no choice at all.  One night in the wee hrs, our Recce (Reconnicense Platoon) was going to do a hit-and-run raid against the BHQ of the enemy who I believe was the RCR.  This was a volunteer job so I,  along with about 6 other Bandsmen left with Recce Platoon about 1am in 6 jeeps. After travelling for a half hr in jeeps we made our way through a wooded area and crawled as close as possible to the enemy. Upon a signal from the Recce Commander we jumped to our feet screaming and shooting,  we charged through the enemy`s position.  I had to change the magazine on my rifle so I crouched on one knee and while  changing my  mag, someone grabbed my right lapel.  I looked up and a young Lt. from the Armoured Corps had the butt of his 9mm pistol raised and was actually going to club me with it.  I do believe he forgot we were shooting blanks and he was taking the whole thing much too seriously.  Needless to say I surrendered and was taken to their Battle Adjutant, CO and staff. There were maps  spread out on a large table and they all wanted me to tell them and point out on the maps the positions of my Battalion.  I couldn`t have told them anything if I`d wanted, as I hadn`t a clue where I was or where I came from.  This same outfit had been accused of minor torture on this same exercise ie: spitting on your face, twisting fingers etc.  I must have convinced them I knew nothing so they put me in their POW compound and there I stayed until the exercise was over.   As it turned out I probably was better off than my friends as we had ran out of fresh rations the day before so I had eggs for breakfast that morning where my friends did not!!  After the exercise was over they would not drive me to my Battalion`s position so I had to walk the approximately five miles. This after no sleep but "Ha",   a full stomach!!

  When I look back at this three and one-half years I spent in Germany with my family, it is with a sense that there was no waste of time.  I say this because whether you read a book, wrote a letter, visited with friends,  performed your job, there was always a sense of closeness.  Was it because we managed to live so well and so fully without the presence of television??  I really think so,  as we were so close to our friends.  It seemed that very often we would have company or were ourselves visiting. When I now look back on this, I realize that we have lost something on the way.  There is nothing on this earth that compares to friendship and we certainly enjoyed an abundance of them during that tenure in Germany.  Perhaps it was because we were all in a foreign country together or perhaps it was because the Band had so many trips that we had formed a bond not often found in civilian or even most military workplaces.
Great friends then were Bill and Gaile Harvey,  Rod and Vi MacLeod, Bill and Sheila Gilmour, Mike and Barb Phelen,  Gerry and Janet Gosbee, Lash and Lillian Larouche, Harold and Joan Hayden (Harold had been our Best Man when Beth and I married),  Billy and Bud Marshall and their wives Anne and Helen and many more much too numerous to mention.  I even have great memories of going downstairs to play cards with Arnold and Pat Flieger.  Always much fun and amusing to remember during our card games when Arnold would get up to take Gary to bed and always had to lie down with him until he went to sleep. Almost always Arnold would fall asleep first so we would have to wake him up to resume our Cards.  Darryl and Betty Mason were great friends.  The time that Beth bought a Bikini and after trying it on once wouldn`t wear it again.   She showed it to Betty who just had to try it on.  Just as she had it on Darryl came home.  We were supposed to go somewhere with them after supper and they were very late and Betty blushed furiously when we teased them.  Betty (originally from Scotland) had a broad Scottish accent and while coffeeing in our house often referred to her sister as, "oorina" .   After months of hearing about Oorina, I asked why on earth would her sister have such an odd name….I then learned her name was simply "Ina" and Betty was referring to her as "our Ina" which in the Scottish accent came out as Oor Ina. ?

  It is quite unbelievable, even to me as I think back on it, that I should have grown tired of the Pipes about that time.  I think perhaps I wanted to be qualified in a good trade looking forward to the day when I would be leaving the Military to resume being a civilian.  Al Jack and I discussed it and decided we would request a transfer to the Dental Corps.  Shortly after, Beth, Heather, Donna and I left for Scotland on a 16 day leave.  We stopped at Ath, Belgium to say Hi to John Broka and his family and to present him with a prize posession of mine that he had admired many times.  Gerry Gosbee,  a gifted machinist had made an all aluminum practice chanter and presented it to me.  With Gerry`s permission I in turn presented it to John who was very happy and most appreciative.

After driving the whole day other than the stop at John`s house,  we arrived at the ferry at the Hook of Holland.  The ferry didn`t leave until almost midnight and I have never experienced such a crowded ship in my life.   We were very lucky to be able to claim half a bench, so we crossed the English Channel on this bench with Heather sitting on my lap and Donna on Beth`s. Absolutely no sleep before we disembarked at Harwich.   It took forever to get through customs as the officers were searching almost every car.  I was very lucky.  Under my front seat was twice as many cigarette cartons as we were allowed and probably the same in liquor.   I had a wee transistor radio which Mom Brunton had asked us to bring her from Germany.   The Officer who searched us was more interested in the radio and after discussing whether it would be alright to leave it in Britain, allowed us to leave.  A nightmare drive through London.  I had no sleep for well over 24 hours and had a bad stress headache.  We must have went through London at it`s busiest hour and we must have taken the busiest route.  A hairy drive with Lorries inches from you on one side and double decker busses on the other.  Finally we cleared London and had a pretty clear road on the A1.  I`ll never forget a roadside restaurant where we stopped for the worst cup of coffee I`ve ever had the misfortune to try to consume.


Don Roy E-mail:
donroy@westman.wave.ca

http://home.westman.wave.ca/~donroy/donroy13.html


NAVIGATION
Don Roy Welcome
Narrative I
Narrative II
 Narrative III
 Narrative IV
Narrative V
Photo Album I
Photo Album II
Photo Album III
Photo Album IV
Photo Album V
Photo Album VI
Photo Album VII
Photo Album VIII
Photo Album IX

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