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The Army of the Sixties

Written By: Rabbi - Jan• 20•12

I joined the army in 1964. It was a time when only a few of the WWII vets were still in the ranks. But, there were a fair number still around from the Korean War. The winds of change had not blown through the Army, Navy or the Air Force.

A lot of what the army looked like, acted like and how it operated was still based very much on the British Army. There was sufficient difference to see that the Canadians were a separate organization, but you could tell we were cousins. And you could tell us apart from the American army.

It was a time when the work week included Saturday morning up until noon. Single private soldiers were not permitted to live off Camp. And, they were not allowed to get married without the Commanding Officer’s permission. Haircuts were a weekly event, and cost about .50. A draft beer in the Men’s Club was .20. A private soldier’s take home pay was in the neighbourhood of $50 every two weeks.

And you had to go on pay parade to get your money. That meant waiting in one of three lines, A to H, I to P and Q to Z. So you see, I was always at the end of the first line of about 200 men.

Camp Gagetown was still very new, having been completed by 1958, although it had been occupied since 1956. It had been carved out of a large plateau  of mixed forest, swamp and marshland, with a fair bit of farmland mixed in.

The place had been expropriated by the Canadian government in a move that caught most of the then-residents by surprise. Surveyors created the boundaries with a mind to the historic settlements in the area being left alone.

It had a movie theatre, an excellent gymnasium, swimming pool and a brand new subdivision of married quarters located outside the main gate. It was a planned town from the start and had the name, Oromocto.The training area was 436 square miles, the largest military establishment in Canada.

And it was here, outside of D-7 of the MacCammons’ lines, that I was deposited to come face to face with the ‘Brute’.


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