William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

RECRUIT TRAINING

The sound of boots – the cries of drill – the breaking of my civvie will
My memory sails across the years to Calgary and the Depot
In my mind, out there upon the square I hear the RSM’s echo!
Rusty Rowbotham he was over six feet tall when I was seventeen
And I swore upon bible and flag to serve my Country and my Queen
SC138341 was my Regimental number, written in my Service Book
They would not let you take a look, ‘twas something one had to remember
‘Twas nineteen hundred and fifty eight and the 14th of November
When I stepped down, off of the train to become, a Rifle family member
Corporal Wally Scharfe, he yelled at me, he told me I was late
He told me I was in deep shit, as we drove through the barracks gate
I filled out all the paper forms at the Depot Orderly Room
Then they gave me a pair of coveralls and a dustpan and a broom
They took away my civvie clothes and stored them I don’t know where
Then they marched me to the barber shop and cut off all my hair
They took me to a barrack room with forty Army bunks
And told me I’d be serving with a bunch of recruit punks!
My pay was eighty bucks per month, I sent half to my Mother
She needed it to feed and clothe my sisters and my brothers
Depot training it was tough, and some men quit, quite soon enough
Marching and Drilling and doing PT; it soon had made a soldier of me
We went to the Ranges for shooting with my own Lee Enfield .303
They gave me a badge, a rifle and crown, because I hit center with every round
This Rifle Regiment Marksman Badge, was the proudest thing that I got
And that badge was presented upon the square by the Depot’s own Major Firlotte

68 Platoon, November 1958 – April 1959
The Queen’s Own Rifles Of Canada Depot Calgary Alberta
68 Platoon, November 1958 – April 1959

Front row: 2nd left – Cpl Bob Bluett (now deceased); 3rd left – Boxing Instructor Cpl (Punchy) Phillips from PEI; 4th left – Drill Instructor Sergeant Victor Ramsbottom (with the drill stick); 5th left – Major Fred Swan is the 5th man from the left in the front row with the sword (he replaced Major Bob Firlotte); 6th left – Major Creighton, CO of the Depot; 7th left – Lt Baskerville Pl Comd (with the sword); 8th left – Sgt Jack Gallant Pl Sgt (with the moustache and a smile); 9th left – Cpl Wally Sharfe

Author’s Note: The young lad, third row, extreme left is 17 year old Rifleman William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD during the passing out parade of 68 Platoon Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Depot November 1958 – April 1959 Calgary Alberta. These recruits all went to the 1st Bn QOR of C.

Nineteen Recruits passed out – we started with 33 men from all across Canada – the instructors weeded out the sick the lame and the lazy (as they called them). These lads who passed out were good quality soldiers and many went on to serve in the Army for life. I did my twenty retiring as Ops Sgt with the SSF and I then went to the cop shop here in Saanichton for a second 23year career. I owe it all to the fine instructors at the Depot and the Rifle Regiment Family that raised me from a young teenager to a tough self confident young man. Surviving the rigors of depot taught me I could survive anything; marching to Bragg Creek and back, running out to the Shannon Coolee and back, and sleeping in wet woollen blankets through shear exhaustion were lessons that taught me that (as my Platoon Sergeant said) I wouldn’t melt and that I could do anything and overcome any hardship if I set my mind to it. Years later, when I worked in cells, and was attacked, a combination of Punchy Phillips Training and the unarmed combat taught in the Canadian Airborne Regiment stood me in good stead. I threw and pinned a 250 lb. welder who was high on PCPs and who had just laid out two cops who were not amused – Assault on a Police Officer was added to his list of charges.

As a young Recruit I didn’t have to shave (no beard) but the keen eyed ACIs spotted the peach fuzz and ordered me to stand a little closer to my newly issued razor. I got quite a few face cuts from the Army Issue Blades that came with the issue razor. I remember the next morning inspection as I stood there with band aids covering my cuts, the smirk on Wally Scharf’s face and this comment, “now that’s better, I want to see you clean shaven like this every morning”.