William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

GOING THROUGH THE RANKS

Infantry Senior NCO’s Training Manual
Infantry Senior NCO’s Training Manual
To the right is a photograph of a training manual that all Infantry Senior NCOs have to memorize prior to becoming a Lance Sergeant. To attain this rank, one had to complete the Senior NCO Course, the Small Arms Instructors Course, the Method of Instruction of Instruction (M of I) Course (now called the School of Instructional Technique or SIT Course) and four years as a full Corporal.

One had to practise for years starting as a Senior Rifleman (Rfn) and progress through the ranks with the Drill and Duties Course which earned you LCpl (unpaid). This was followed by the Junior Leader’s Course where you could be promoted to LCpl (paid); after completing the Junior NCOs Course, if you had 4 years as a LCpl (paid) you could become a Section Commander.

I was a LCpl, up and down for 7½ years, but when I got married I kept my nose clean and got the coveted deuce horn badge above the hooks. In a Rifle Regiment, one had to wear two hooks when appointed Lance Corporal (unpaid) and when you became Lance Corporal (Paid) you normally moved from the Rifle Squad to the LMG Squad in the section. After successfully moving through all of the ranks from Rfn Recruit, Rfn THR (trained higher rate), LCpl (unpaid), LCpl (paid), Acting Corporal and Substantive Corporal I finally made it to Section Commander and was paid accordingly.

All went well until a new MND (Minister of National Defence), a bloke named Paul Hellyer, made everyone in my Section a full Corporal. Career Riflemen were now earning the higher salary like American PFCs.

As the Section Commander, I shook hands with and congratulated everyone in my Section. As I said to newly promoted Corporal Rat (the Rodent) Don Randle, who had the Junior NCO Course in Korea, “I wonder who will dig the latrines now.”

“Not me,” he said, “I’m a Corporal!”

The Rat got his nickname when one night while drinking he said, “I crawled like a ‘rat’ through the slit trenches, the bunkers, and the mud of Korea.” The lads picked up on it and he was forever after that called the “Rat” and he enjoyed the celebrity status by saying, “That will be Corporal Rat to you!”

Don Randle was from Montreal and he did his twenty, and retired to a flea bag motel room in downtown Victoria and died of throat cancer smoking three packs a day right up until he died. He would say, when I met him down town with Shakey McNeil, Chiefie White etc., that, “I am no Quitter!” and he never did quit, smoking that is, and he would take in drags from the hole in his neck.

When I came back to Victoria from the AIRBORNE REGIMENT wearing my QOR Sergeant’s Chevrons, he said, “Look at that, even my drinking buddies are now getting promoted!” I went on in spite of Hellyer, without the Lance Sergeant, Acting Sergeant and Substantive Sergeant’s Ranks and retired as Operations Sergeant working for General Christie of the Special Service Force in Petawawa.

Many of you who were once Senior NCOs or studied to be, have probably read and practised the 12 step programme displayed below. I know I learned mine under RSM (W01) K.H. “Kenrod the Rod” Mcleod, but when I finished the Senior NCO Course, I threw away the manual, and found it was much easier to be semi-nice, and to be firm, fair and friendly and to treat people well. As “Zump the Pump”, our old CQ would say, “You walk with loaded weapons behind me and if I die from a friendly bullet, I want it to be because of a genuine trip.”

These young soldiers were willing to die for their Country and from time to time they needed “guidance” but I tried to be fair, mainly because I always remembered what it was like being a Rifleman and a Junior NCO under Pl Sergeants that were tyrants, little Hitlers and Napoleons who trembled when the RSM or the CSM barked orders.

It was my pleasure to copy the good ones like Jack Gallant, Mumbles Hampton, Harry Groom, Don Ethell, Sonny Grant, Chester Hendrick, Lumpy Stuart, Joe Zumprelle, Tom Eagle, Ken Umpherville, John Carson, Bill Carleton, Poncho Fotheringham, Daddy Whelan, Victor Ramsbottom, Rusty Rowbotham, and numerous others through the years.

Be well my friends and study hard,
Billy