William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD


The soldiers sat in the back of the truck
2 days rats and spare socks packed in a ruck
We had no rifles just shovels and picks
digging fire breaks we had to work quick

The whole battalion, six hundred of us
Went up to the site by truck or by bus
Alberta was burning the General told us
As officers dismounted down from the bus

We dug all day until the change of the wind
Our coveralls tore and our boots they got singed
We hit the water and followed the creek
blanket rolls at the church, was where we would sleep

they gave us new boots and new coveralls too
and back to the fire-line we marched two by two
at the end of the week the down pours they came
saving thousands of trees – thank God for the rain!

We packed up our picks and our shovels too
And back to Calgary went the fire crew
Prison breaks, floods, ice storms or fire
Canada’s troops are not just guns for hire!

  • rats: hard rations (canned and/or dried meals, ready to eat)
  • ruck: large pack or rucksack

Author’s Note: Soldiers are generally thought of as guys who shoot at other guys and yes, that is true but the Country owes our guys big time for stopping prison breaks during riots, by saving life and limb during the floods and ice storms. This poem just tells a small part of the bigger picture where millions of dollars worth of lumber was saved by Canadian Service Men and Women.

When I was issued live ammunition to guard politicians during the October Crisis when our Prime Minister Trudeau declared the War Measures Act because Quebec wanted to separate I thought my world had come to an end. We were involved in civil war in our own country. Fortunately the killers were permitted to fly to Cuba and the crisis quieted down with the death of a few people only. The FLQ did kill a politician but they freed Mr. Cross, the British Ambassador, before being flown out to Cuba – the FLQ is still in existence but has gone underground. My words, “it’s time to love, forget to hate, ‘cause we don’t wish to separate”, is a cry for a peaceful solution in my own Country.