Convoys And So On
The Regiment was in Sussex, New Brunswick at the time, and were short on everything except cold winter weather. the only fighting going on at that time was in North Africa, where the Brits and the Germans were chasing each other all over the place. By this time, the infantry did not march too far, they were lifted in trucks (called TCVs), and the Brits laid it down in stone that convoy speeds would be from 12 to 15 miles per hour and the distance between vehicles would be 75 yards. And these rules were to be rigidly enforced.
So 8 Canadian Brigade laid on an exercise to do this training. There were only enough vehicles to life one Company at a time, so it was that one company would be picked up at our barracks and taken several miles down the road, dump us off to continue the march on foot and the empty trucks would backtrack and pick up one of the marching companies, and so repeat the process.
Charlie Company was to be in the trucks to start and I had them all in those open, cold trucks several minutes before start time, then went up to the start of the column and stood waiting – lots of time. Transport Corporal Wells came along, saluted the Major and said hello to me. I asked him how things were going and he replied his only worry was this 75 yard business. He looked directly at me and asked “Sir, just how far is 75 yards?”
A direct question I had to answer so I looked down the street to where I figured 75 yards would be and said keep 3 telephone poles apart. He stared at me and asked what I meant, so I told him. We are at a pole now, count three poles down the street and that is where the truck you are following should be.
He asked if that was 75 yards and I said I did not know but it did not matter, as long as they stayed that distance apart, it would look good and no one would get a yard stick to measure if it was 69 yards, or 75, or 82. It was the spacing that had to be good .
So he went down the line and told all the drivers what to do, meanwhile I looked at my Company Commander and he was furious. He snarled at me to get back to my truck. I suppose that remark about it being good enough, upset him as we all know that looking good is not good enough for the Army, it has to BE good as well.
RSM Harry Fox was a Sergeant in the Queen’s Own at the beginning of WWII and went on to become the RSM of the Queen’s Own and then Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment while they where fighting through Italy.
You can see more of his WWII Reminiscences at the link here.