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Camp Borden - 1940

For the most part 1940 was consumed with training, training and more training. Initial training introduced many of the young soldiers to the intricacies of the internal combustion engine for the first time. As a “Mechanized” unit driving and maintenance of wheeled vehicles, including motorcycles, figured prominently. This entailed moving individually and as part of a formation or convoy on road and off. In addition, each soldier received training in many other useful skills. These included map and compass, crew served and individual weapons, signals/radios as well as rigorous physical training and conditioning. A very basic introduction to tanks and armoured vehicles was undertaken using the small number of the Mk. VIb light tanks and the Carden-Loyd machinegun carriers. In September of 1940 the Regiment became part of the first Canadian Armoured Brigade, and promptly won the Brigade Sports Championship. October 1940 saw the arrival in Camp Borden of 236 world War 1 vintage Model 1917 light tanks. These were sold to Canada by the United States as “Scrap Iron” and although in poor condition these antiquated vehicles were quickly put into running condition and basic armoured training began in earnest.

Sgt. Art Campbell & Sgt. Art Boyle In their M 1917 light tank

On several occasions during the year the soldiers were able to demonstrate their newly acquired knowledge in the form of tactical exercises including mounted assaults on Barrie and Camp Borden. These exercises were well received by the men and were carried out with great enthusiasm and initiative. In one exercise 40 Hussars, part of “The Bun Raiding Force” were secreted in the back of a local produce truck to gain entrance to camp Borden and once inside proceeded to wreak great havoc capturing the tank hangers, ordnance depot, petrol dump, camp headquarters and the telephone exchange.

An interesting interlude occurred in July of 1940 when the Regiment had its first contact with the enemy. Two squadrons were sent to Quebec City to escort German prisoners of war to POW Camp 20 at Calydor, near Gravenhurst Ontario and camp 31 at Fort Henry in Kingston where they would remain as guards until relieved in mid August. Life at Calydor could not have been more different for the prisoners and guards. The Guards Lived in tents, used latrines, ate from mess tins, and slept on straw filled mattresses. Prisoners were accommodated in a remodeled hotel with hot and cold running water, electricity, flush toilets, spring beds with sheets, and a full dining room. On the other hand, life in Kingston was quite comfortable for the soldiers as they were allowed into the city in their off hours and there was good fishing in the Cataraqui River.

Bishop, Cpl. Baker, Woods, Killingback at Fort Henry

By the end of 1940 the Regiment was clearly making progress but materially it was little better off than when the year started. In December the Regiment could muster a grand total of 18 vehicles including the Commanding Officer’s staff car.

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