Veteran Stories:
Arthur Victor “Arty” Webster

Army

  • Saskatchewan, February 1944

    Arthur Webster
  • Ski Troop in Saskatchewan, February 1944

    Arthur Webster
  • Webster and group with tanks.

    Arthur Webster
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"That was a little over four-and-a-half weeks of fighting mostly by the infantry. Which was absolutely frightening."

Transcript

… the training at Camp Borden was, of course I had to begin with, starting my beginning training. Which I did for three months. And then I learned to drive tanks. At that place, there was only Ram tanks. I stayed there for a certain length of time and then they come and found out all we young chaps, that were under 18 and sent us out to Camp Dundurn in Saskatchewan. We were going to start a new tank camp.

However, when arriving, it was too soft, the sand, it was too sandy out there. So they decided to make it a recce camp with carriers—that’s tanks without a turret. They were light vehicle around six ton. So this is our next time, next four or five months, learning reconnaissance and various movements, also doing some training.

. After learning all our business, we started to get recruits coming through, so we original chaps started to train them. Comes to bad weather and they decide to make ski troops out of us. We were testing equipment various, from different countries – skis, tents, clothing and everything that you can think of, we were testing. And this is when we were sent to Prince Albert.

Prince Albert, we were there for the whole winter, had a jolly time because we were stationed mostly on the Saskatchewan River and it was quite cold in the winter but we had all, as I said, these clothes, so we were quite warm and quite comfortable, the food was good and everything. Now, I had met a nice lady. When I had arrived at Dundurn, was a group of us out on a ski, we stopped at the outskirts of Saskatoon and I noticed this young lady after and inquired what was going on in Saskatoon. We were from Ontario. She at first was a little stuck up but however, she weakened and said, yes, there was a dance at the Cave.

This is very important because it ended up, after going out for some time, and I knew I was going overseas, we decided to get married, November 6th, 1943. I don’t believe there were any other ski troops. If there were, it’s beyond my knowledge.

We would put 40-pound packs on our back, traverse across parts of Prince Albert and as you well know, there’s not many hills in Saskatchewan. However, we did also use snowshoes, it was a good grill training and as I said, we were living on the Saskatchewan River itself in tents. And we managed to get down to 40, 45 below zero but as I said, we were all young people, it didn’t bother us at all and we were equipped very well.

So that’s about all I can tell you and that part is from, most of the equipment that we tried out, it was all good. The Norwegian equipment, we thought, was superior. Of course, these people had been skiers for so many years.

I suppose you’ve heard of the Scheldt. That was a little over four-and-a-half weeks of fighting mostly by the infantry. Which was absolutely frightening. I often thought, and I had a brother-in-law that was there all the while with the Canadian Scottish, in fact, he landed at Juno Beach, June the 6th and went right through the complete war without a scratch. Which is amazing when you think about it being in the infantry. Poor devils, they’re in mud and slush and rain and cold. However, we were away from that, we wouldn’t participate apart from support, firing support.

The reconnaissance regiment, the SARs, we give the infantry support of course and they give us support. We fought with three infantry battalions, the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and the Algonquins. All of these three outfits, they were terrific. They really were. They supported us as I said and vice versa all through the war.

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