"They put us through a number of other paper tests, measuring intelligence and psychology and all those things."
I enlisted in Vancouver, British Columbia. We assembled at Chilliwack and then we were posted to Vernon, British Columbia for basic infantry training. And that was about I think six months of training. And then we were posted and transferred to Calgary, to A16 CITC [Canadian Infantry Training Centre] in November of 1943.
I was selected to go for the [officer] selection process at Brockville, Ontario. That was about the fourth of May in 1944. And I was there for about three weeks doing various things. What might be of interest is the ingenuity tests that they put us through. They put us through a number of other paper tests, measuring intelligence and psychology and all those things. But the ingenuity tests were, one of them was the ability to make use of anything that was at hand or a compass attached, such as getting across a small pond or a farmer’s field using anything that was available, such as maybe your own belt. And there was also a long tunnel that we had to crawl through, which had dead ends and turns. And a number of people were quite claustrophobic and that.
We also had impromptu talks, where you picked a topic from a hat and had to talk on it for about five minutes. Sometimes picked something that went for longer than that. I’m six-foot-six in those days - and still am a bit, but off a little - but I was physically fit and was able to sort of climb up into this barn, to get up to the hay loft and use various materials that were up there to get yourself a bit higher and whatever.
When I returned to Currie Barracks [in Calgary, Alberta], we were still in a sense to move from second-lieutenants to lieutenants. And during that process, we actually had charge of a platoon, which we took on with a complement of NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] and with a particular platoon, you had to go through all these various maneuvers and do a lot of field firing. At Currie, they had a place called Point F on the Indian reserve about seven miles from Currie Barracks. So we did a run/walk there to and from, carrying all our weapons and so forth, so we were in really good shape. And on those occasions, going through these drills and platoon maneuvers, often, I came pretty close to being killed because of the things that happened. Because the guys weren’t fully experienced and they were very nervous and would hold their finger on the trigger beyond the time that they should have had the ceasefire, would fire the mortar in the live ammunition without being dropped at the right place. So sometimes it, the shrapnel would be firing and tearing up the soil very close to where the troops were and where I was positioned.
I was on the list to go with a group and be orderly room [staff] at Currie Barracks. They had a list of the names of officers in a batch; I guess there were about ten of us on the list. And each month, there was a contingent went over and on V-E Day [Victory in Europe, May 8 1945] we were the last to go. So we moved up the board, as an assignment. So I didn’t go. That too was, as I say, a disappointment.
[Please note: Additional written material related to Mr. Embleton's service - particularly his officer training - is on file with The Memory Project: Stories of the Second World War.]