William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF BILLY, THE SOLDIER POET

1947

Red Head pee de bed 5 cents a cabbage head
That’s what the cruel city kids, in Ottawa said
Moving down from Quebec from a Gatineau Hill
We moved to the big city with Monica and Bill

That was back there in nineteen and forty seven
Three years before Grandpa died, and he went off to heaven
I spoke a funny Hinglish, 'twas sumting dey calls patois
An kids aroun St Mary’s School gayme de big hee haw

I haddta fite doze city kids and lern doze city rules
An speek hinglish wid no hackcent down hat doze h’ottawa schools
Me hair she’s rouge and curly an de girls says ize be cute
But wen de bullies picked on me dey got de ficken boot

I was a quiet young lad at St Malachi’s, a West End Separate school
An I took de ficken IQ test, an dat tol dem, I was no fool
I mitta bin a country lad wat spoke a funny twang
I was in me seat wen ere dat nun’s, brass school bell, she rang!

1956

I worked at EB Eddys in Hull wen I was jus a lad of sixteen ans
Giving arf me pay to me mudder ‘cause she needed a elping hand
I was waitin for me birday an de day dat I turned seventeen
waitin to join de Army, and to serve me country’s Canadian Queen!

1958

I went down on the street car to the Army’s East End – Ottawa’s 13 PD
They gave me a bunch of written tests, an the MO looked at me
The gave me ten dollars and a ticket and I got up on the train
It carried me off to Calgary and I never really came home again

1959

At 17 I was in de ranks, out in Sarcee a’riding on de tanks
Bayonet fighting and doing drills, route marching out to the Bragg Creek Hills
I went to Wainwright with a Rifle Coy, once I became a soldier boy
Then at 18 – I went overseas to a land of Fraulines, beer and cheese

They were building a wall in a place called Berlin
we were on live ammo alert as each bug out would begin
Our Battalion was over there when Khrushchev banged his shoe
In Amsterdam me and my buddies got a Rose and bayonet Tattoo !

Death before dishonour, ‘twas meant, by that bayonet Tattoo
And that might seem a little strange, and a little funny to you?
The young Riflemen who wore it, many of us are now getting old
Were willing to die – give up their lives, if the truth were known and told

Up at Brigade I got my group two, and I did the drill & duties course in spades
A couple of times I was a Lance Corporal (Unpaid), up and down the grades
Kept my nose cleaner –finally got the raise for the rank, I was finally paid, of course
Passed the x-country long range Patrol Course – perhaps it could have been worse?

1963

Back to Canada, I got my group 3, and this was a wonderful time for me
First Aid updated, Air Portability Course, Then off to Army Ski School
Me and my buddy PJ Hoare we loved drinking beer and acting the fool
The Rod called us a couple of tools –we did both extremely well, of course!

1964

Out on the square with baton and shield – helmet and full plastic face mask
Jeep fronts full of wire we made mobs retire and learned UN crowd control tasks
‘Twas the year I met Lynne and let the courting begin-smitten with love I did bask
Got a B on the Junior and my name on the CO’s wall plaque, when I got back

1965

Charlie Belzile was a great Army Boss – he knew how to treat his men
He promoted me full Cpl when I got married and. I never looked back again
Lew MacKenzie, Don Ethell, Bob Halpin and Chink
All were in Recce Platoon, in Cyprus, I think

Lew went off alone behind the Turk Line and got into trouble, just that one time?
a red-headed Corporal at D Coy HQ, happened to be manning the radio too
So he did the thing that he had to do, sent out the patrols to rescue Lew
I rode shotgun for my Company Commander too, cause those are the things soldiers do!

1968

I went for a run early every morn the year that my daughter Sandra Anne was born
AIRBORNE AIRBORNE train every day –This Ops Sgt went AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY!
Mountain School, Ski School, Jungle School, Battle School and Quick Kill
These are the things that Capt Dalziel and Major Stewart would try to instil

1972

Wo sihuan tyau woo – I love to dance – I went to Carleton U
Wo yi ding dang bing – I joined the Army – and I speak Chinese too
Wo whay chang ger – I am able to sing –
Wo swo pu tong wha – I speak Chinese – ke shr – that is my thing!

Bu Chang, Sho Chang – Rifle and Pistol, – sing song
These are the things that the Army taught me
When I was studying to speak Chinese wha – Chinee what?
Swo Gwo Yu – bi ye bu pa – study the country’s language but don’t be afraid

1974

University of Victoria 2nd year Chinese and working at MARPAC HQ
I studied hard and I got an A – what else was I supposed to do?
This was a wonderful posting so I bought a home in mid town
Of all the places we ever lived, it’s the nicest place, we’ve found

1978

I was preparing to go off to Namibia as Ops Sgt of the SSF
But the chest pain from morning runs was scaring me to death
That mixed in with my slowing down and my breath was getting short
I no longer went off skiing, playing hockey or doing body contact sport

I pulled the plug at twenty years – I started to draw my pension
The MO told me I had an enlarged heart, take it easy, he did mention
So I packed my barrack box and my kit bag with all my civvie gear
And we drove back to our home in BC – it was the fall of the year!

1979

I got a job guarding prisoners at the Central Saanich Jail
They went down town to Provincial Court just before making bail
From there I moved to the front desk to learn CPIC and PIRS
And there I sat with court records for more’n twenty years

2006

Retired now, I volunteer – I’ve run ICROSS CANADA for about nine years
We gather dressings, and ointments, painkillers and Izzy African comfort dolls
If you see the faces of suffering Aids Orphans, then you would be appalled
You can help and you can care and you can send a cheque to share

Mail it to: ICROSS CANADA,
Postal Office Box 3
Saanichton, B.C. Canada, V8M 2C3
You’ll get a charity receipt from me

Author’s Note: This is in answer to a phone call from a very brave Mr unknown who said: “Who are you and what have you ever done?” I said: “I am Billy and not too much really, but I am still trying to do something for the suffering HIV AND AIDS ORPHANS in Africa”. He hung up? Ce’st la vie! Poets often piss people off and that is not a bad thing because perhaps some of the points being discussed and some of the questions being asked openly in poetry are hitting close to home? Proactive poetry does change and help to change things – If the message and questions being asked gets under someone’s skin, so be it. Yes I am on the Liberales, and Liebrano, hit lists ‘cause I wrote some mean poems about their ad scams and their under the table payoffs, and their ruination of the Canadian Armed Forces – etc – but hey – Ya can’t please alla da peoples alla da time = I suspect the caller was a disgruntled Liberal who is still smarting because an honest Government is now in place - a Government that is trying to keep its promises to Canadians. If ya can’t stand de heat call Billy –

Been called a lotta tings in my time, drunken sot. Mow Dzit Hang Glaze, Red Head pee de bed, Rifleman, defaulter, paratrooper, Corporal, Sergeant, Willie the Worker, Saanichton Handyman, Screw, Front Desk PIG, Communications Officer, and Major Edward’s wife named me the Canadian Soldier Poet, Got Poe et Liariette de Gatineau from my AIRBORNE bud Bob Elliott, my wife calls me Hey You, (and darling), my grandson Jarrod calls me Graw pa, and to Revenue Canada Charity Division I am known as CEO, founder, and Chairman of the International Community for the Relief of Starvation and Suffering, ICROSS CANADA. Most of these handles are true or partially true, but mostly my family and friends just call me Billy – you can too.