William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

TALES FROM THE RANKS

Editor “The Piklee Post” – What a joy it was after thumbing through the pages of Vol 32 No 2 October 2006 Edition and finding on page 15 top right hand photo at the Vernon 30th Anniversary, there between John Fossett and Richard Engel stood my old much admired Company Sergeant Major Bill Carleton.

Young soldiers learn from their leaders, and I was up and down like Maggie’s drawers between LCpl (unpaid), and Rifleman for many years (seven and a half years to be exact). After getting married I settled down and kept my nose clean so I could make my furniture and car payments without $25.00 fine deductions and two weeks wasted doing pack drill and sleeping on the guardroom floor. Bill Carleton made me LCpl (paid) which I think at the time was $27.00 a month and later when I went to the Airborne we got the $30.00 per month jump pay. We were not rich but we loved soldiering and we were all volunteers! That fact and the saying, “if you can’t take a joke, you should not have joined” made digging latrines and humping large packs and Bren guns up and down hills a wee bit easier to take. “Ya mighta broke yur mudder’s heart, and if ya did, okay that’s fine – but you signed on for 3 more years and your heart and soul are mine!” said (with a big grin) by my 1st Pl Sgt, Jack Gallant Calgary AB, November 1958.

Anyways, when I worked for WO2 (CSM) Bill Carleton it was a study in leadership and it was very useful to me when I later became an Infantry Senior NCO. I re-badged from QOR to PPCLI later on when I worked for Major Murray Edwards at PACREG HQ, until that time I was a black puttee bandit, and Bill Carleton, who was ex PPCLI was also a green jacket wearing horn rim buttons at the time. He was a tall easy going gentleman who never took life too seriously and always had a smile on his face as he held the phone away from his head as the Rod Screamed into same!

Many old QOR and Patricia Infantry SNCOs will remember Kenrod “The Rod” McLeod who was RSM of the 1st Bn QOR of C. Rod wore the CVSM, War Medal, Coronation and the CD ribbons with extra pride and he kept a close and careful tab on his be-medalled CSMs and his CQs. He would phone the HQ Coy Office and scream into the phone, “CUMP KNEE SAR MAY JAR” at the top of his lungs. I would turn over my desk pad and check my list and say: “Sir, I believe he went over to inspect the Quarters with the CQ?” “WHEN HE GETS BACK, TELL HIM I WANT TO SEE HIM.” “Yes Sir.”

Upon hanging up, I would immediately telephone Bill’s PMQ where he and the CQMS Staff Sergeant Louis Riel and CSM (WO2) Poncho Fotheringham were watching the world series on TV, and tell him the Rod was looking for him and that if anyone asked he was inspecting the quarters with the CQMS. Bill was an ardent World Series Ball fan and the Rod suspected that something was up, but he could never prove anything. I would never use the same excuse twice: eg. I think he has gone over to the tailor shop Sir et cetera.

Bill was and is a wily old WW2 War Vet and the Rod was always trying to get the goods on both our CQMS SSgt Louis Riel and our CSM (WO2) Bill Carleton, both of whom had chests filled with medals and one would have had to get up pretty early in the a.m. to beat either of these crafty old warriors. SSgt Louis Riel retired and moved up to the Okanagan and Bill eventually became the RSM. In 1968 I went off to the AIRBORNE REGIMENT and later to study Chinese, but I still see him from time to time in Victoria, and he always makes my heart soar, because it was a pleasure and a learning experience to know and respect such a fine soldier – one who served his Queen and Country with honour and with pride! Thanks to great leaders like Bill Carleton, most of us managed to make it through to retirement too! There might be dissention but we are drawing the pension!